Today let’s look at the experience of John the Baptist as he was in prison and he began to have doubts and concerns about who Jesus was and what He was doing. My brother, my sister, doubts work against your faith. Each of us has had at least a time when we had doubts and fears about our salvation, our faith and even our life on earth… During such times, we ask ourselves very deep questions. But today, let’s look into the Word of God to see how the Lord deals with doubt to understand that having doubts and fear is not a problem in itself, but when we allow them to become prisons, then they become problems.
First of all, let’s recall that there was a time when there was no doubt in John the Baptist’s mind, but when he was thrown into a prison, he began to doubt. Is it not what we do when confronted with difficulties? When we can’t get what we want, we start doubting. When we can’t see things with our physical eyes, we start doubting. You see, John the Baptist was locked up and he could no longer see the Lord Jesus healing and ministering. He could no longer hear the Lord preaching and teaching (verse 2), so he became frustrated. Then his heart became clouded with doubts and questions! Why? Because he became discouraged, disappointed: John might have thought Jesus would run to help him when hearing he was in prison and operate a miracle for him to be out right away. But things did not happen that way: “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee” (Matthew 4:12). Yes, Jesus left for another city despite that! So we understand why Jean doubted Jesus to be the Messiah he had been announcing.
My friend, bear this in mind today: John the Baptist found himself locked in the prison of doubt because he listened to his own doubts and fears. Yes, when you listen to what you think, what you feel, what you see or to what your heart tells you, you are in trouble! You cannot trust your eyes because they don’t see everything. You cannot trust what you feel because we are called to walk by faith not by feelings. You certainly cannot trust your heart because it can deceive you: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9). But you can do what John the Baptist did in the midst of his doubts: coming back to the place where you simply trust the Lord, even when you cannot trace what He is doing! Very often, we do not see everything that God is doing. Our problem is similar to John’s: we fail to see the big picture. John did not understand that Jesus had to die and rise again before He would establish His kingdom. Yet, John did the right thing: he sent his disciples to Jesus on his behalf. In other words, He turned back to the Lord instead of sinking with his doubts!
Now, let’s look at the way Jesus reacted: after Jesus heard the disciples of John and their questions; He did not send back a harsh word of rebuke. Jesus responded with patience, grace and love: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (verses 4-6). In fact, Jesus just pointed John the Baptist back to the Word of God! Jesus reported all the things He was doing to say this: ‘Just go back and tell John to read his Bible and he will understand… Just tell John to stick to the Word of God and his fears and doubts will leave!’ My friend, If we could read and meditate on the Word and take on faith that God will do everything He has promised for our lives, and that He will stand by His Word no matter what, we will also be able to see our doubts fall apart before our eyes. Let me insist on the fact that Jesus did not pray for John, He did not tell John to fast and pray… He just asked him to BELIEVE in the Word of God, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Of course we cannot finish this meditation without recalling Thomas who was prepared to die with Jesus (John 11:16), but who would not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead (John 20:24-25)… My friend, when doubts arise, do not allow them to stay in your mind or you will find yourself in a prison of doubt. And, remember what Jesus told Thomas: “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). Stay blessed in Jesus’ name.