Doubting…John?

We often hear references to a famous doubter in the Bible, doubting Thomas. I won’t get into why he really doesn’t deserve that moniker here, but I would like to point your attention to someone else who had some very intense doubt.

His name was John. And he is best known for baptizing people. In fact, he is known to history as “John the Baptist.” But the last words we have recorded from him express doubt.

John had been called by God to preach. He had baptized thousands. He had even received divine revelation and confirmation that Jesus was the Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1). But John had expectations—expectations that didn’t match the reality he found himself facing in Matthew 11.

John is sitting in a prison, locked up for speaking the truth to Herod. He has been taken out of the picture, so far as his life’s work was concerned. He’s unable to teach the masses, unable to baptize anyone, unable to point repentant souls to a life of relationship with God. Surely this can’t be part of the plan, he must have thought.

So John, who had already known and proclaimed the truth, sent some messengers to Jesus. He told them to ask one simple question: Are you the one we’ve been waiting for, or is there someone else? In other words, Was I wrong, Jesus, when I told people you were the Messiah? John needed confirmation (and he got it by Jesus’ response). But for the moment, John had doubts.

It’s not wrong to have doubts. But when we have them, we need to be like John and go to the right source for the answers.

-Bradley S. Cobb

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