“Are you the one who is to come? Or shall we look for another?” Luke 7:19
By: Gabriela Yareliz
Those were the words spoken by John’s messengers. John the Baptist, that is. Yes. I know what you are thinking. John the Baptist, the same guy Bible movies portray as a lunatic caveman, with hair that makes Einstein’s hair look like it needed more volume.
I kind of have John the Baptist hair right now, as I am typing this, still slightly sick and disheveled. Anyway…
John the Baptist gets portrayed terribly, but he was a simple man who was called to live plainly and do difficult things. He was called, not only to prepare the way for his cousin Jesus, the Messiah, but he was also called to break difficult news to difficult people. You try telling the ruler of where you live that his adulterous relationship is wrong. Talk about calling out people and keeping it real…
Jesus himself said about John, “I tell you that among those born of women, none is greater than John…” (Luke 7:28). John had an incredible humility, simplicity and mission.
So, John lived his simple life; called people to follow a straight path; baptized people, and lived a pretty solitary life (as most great men do). At the end of his life, he was imprisoned. And then he is killed because of a malicious request from a pretty young woman, who requested his head on a platter at a drunken night party (true story, see, Matthew 14).
Nothing seemed to make sense. The life of a great man was going to come to an end because a young, pretty dancer said “Give me the head of John the Baptist here in a platter.” (Matthew 14:8). The young dancer was the daughter of the women having an affair with Herod (the ruler). It seems the adulterous woman had had enough of hearing about her adulterous ways, and she wanted John dead. It’s weird how we often try to silence our conscience in the most erroneous ways.
Before what seems like the senseless end of his life, however, John sent some friends to find his cousin, Jesus. He sent friends because he was in prison. He sent them to ask the very question this post begins with. John the Baptist had baptized Jesus and heard heaven itself declare Jesus’ divinity. (Matthew 3:17).
John sent friends to ask Jesus, even after all he had witnessed. The question was whether Jesus was the one all had been waiting for.
I am not focusing on John’s doubt to judge him. Not even close. John was probably in a very unexpected place. He was in that place where all your worst fears come true.
I think that just like life often makes us share in John the Baptist’s bad hair days, we also, at times, share in his doubt. Life rocks us, and rocks us hard. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in our very own jail (perhaps not literal, but we are trapped, alone, cold and scared). We find ourselves in jail, and we forget the very voice of heaven we have perhaps heard in the past. We are in our own dark prison, and we begin to look up and say, “God, are you there?” “Are you the one who is to come, or shall I look for another?”
As I have mentioned before, so many times, our perspective is limited to what we see in front of us and our circumstances that fog the rest of the horizon. We sit alone, wondering whether we have made a grave mistake, while knowing full well all that we have lived up to that point.
When Jesus received the question from John’s messengers, He didn’t rebuke John. He didn’t say, “Are you serious? John is doubting me now! Really?!” He didn’t even say, “Doesn’t he remember the voice that spoke at my baptism, the voice that boomed out of heaven?”
None of that.
Instead of pointing to clear past evidence, Jesus pointed to what He was doing in the present. Jesus, in that very hour, had healed many people and bestowed sight to the blind, scripture states. (Luke 7:21).
Jesus said to the messengers, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Luke 7:22-23)
And it is after this conversation that Jesus calls John the Baptist a great man.
Jesus pointed to what He was doing in that very moment. John was going to hear about all the miracles, including the conquering of death, itself. What seemed to be John’s end (his head on the platter) wouldn’t be, because Jesus sent a reminder that what looks like the end is not the end because He is the One.
Are you sitting in a jail today? Are you wondering where God is or whether it’s time to seek another? Jesus is healing, moving and doing– even while you are in your prison. He wants you to know He is restoring things and making all things new. What seems like the end, is not the end because He lives.
Our humility and trust in God, even in the most difficult hours, take us a long way. He does not rebuke our questioning and heartache. Instead, He tells us to look closely at all His hand is doing.
There is a promise and statement for you and me, tied in here with John, too:
“I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28).
Think of all you have seen and heard. Never forget.