John the Baptist sat in his prison. He was held captive as a result of his rebuke toward Herod for his inappropriate relationship with his brother’s wife. In boldness he pronounced the open sin was wrong before a righteous God, and in boldness Herod had him arrested, exacting vengeance for his rebuke.
Matthew 11:11 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
The longer he sat there lonely, where he could not see the works of the Saviour, the more he became discouraged. He began to simply ask himself whether Jesus was who He said he was, or not. John’s disciples noticed that his countenance was not as vivid as before. The light in his eyes was faded and the fire of his great voice was extinguished. The man that declared with great vigor and excitement that Jesus was the Son of God that would take away the sins of the entire world, was now questioning His reality. The man whose ears heard the voice of God say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” no longer remembered the stamp of approval on that day.
John the Baptist was born different than any other person in the Bible because before he was born, he was chosen to be forerunner of Christ (Matt. 11:11). Even Jesus mentions the importance of John the Baptist’s work later on in Matthew 11 saying, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…” His mother, Elisabeth was cousins with Christ’s mother Mary.
John had a definite God-ordained ministry, so why was he discouraged and doubting?
In my opinion, it was because he was taken out of the ministry he was actively involved in and isolated. Even as important as he was to the work of the Lord at that time in history, he was frail when alone.
Jesus understood that John, just like the rest of us, needed some reaffirmation and reassurance.
Matthew 11:4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, and the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
John’s disciples had a simple task:
- to declare the works of Jesus back to him.
I want to challenge you, if you are in an isolated place like John, to look for the miracles going on outside your situation.
Sometimes when we are struggling we do not like to hear about the successes of other Christians and how God is working in their lives because it makes us think of the loss that we have suffered. According to Jesus’ advice, it is vital that you look out beyond your circumstances and see the Lord’s work elsewhere. He is still performing miracles, meeting needs, and people are still reaching and preaching to the lost souls of the world. He wants you to see and hear about the good news from a far country (or what seems to be) and be lifted up.
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25
I love the verse that says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep,” in Romans 12:15. This verse explains to us that it’s okay to be happy for others in their moments of rejoicing and it’s okay for us to have grief and allow others to grieve with us when we are in our low moments. I believe that you can both rejoice and grieve in the at the same time. In a situation of discouragement and doubt where you may be tempted to only look at your problems, the best way to get out of those problems is to look at God and His works.
- “The blind receive their sight.” Look for things that are obvious as you look around your world at God’s creation and His people. Rejoice in God’s handiwork!
- “The lame walk.” Think about how God has worked in the lives of a repentant prodigal son or daughter. Is there someone that was once “lame” in their life and now they are walking on the narrow path of God’s ways? Rejoice in God’s unfailing love!
- “The lepers are cleansed.” Lepers were given a death sentence because of their disease, sinners are given a death sentence for their sin. Can you think of someone that recently got saved? Rejoice in their belief in Christ’s work on the cross!
- “The deaf hear.” Listen for things that God is doing in the life of His church, in the families around you, and in the world. God is speaking, can you hear? Rejoice in the instruments God uses to speak to your heart!
- “The dead are raised up.” This should give you certain hope if you’ve been discouraged yourself. Can you think of someone that also struggles with discouragement and doubt? How did God raise their spirit up so that they had life again? If you don’t know… ask them! Rejoice in God’s love for life!
- “The poor have the gospel preached to them.” There was something different about Jesus because He reached out to everyone no matter their social status. It must have been something unique for the poor people to be being preached to, that is why Jesus mentioned with a list of miracles. Jesus really did come to seek and save all men. Can you think of a missionary who preaches the gospel to his country’s poor? Can you think of a person in your church or ministry that reaches unlovely people like Bartimaeus? Rejoice in God’s efforts through common man!
Miracles are all about us, I challenge you to write those miracles down in a journal for you to look at when you are like John and you are discouraged and doubting. Part 2 covers the part of Jesus’ words to John that said, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”