Wisdom is justified by all her children (35)
Luke stresses that John was well aware of Jesus’ ministry and fame (18), but nevertheless questions whether or not Jesus is ‘the One’.
What’s going on in John’s mind? Had he forgotten the stories surrounding his and Jesus’ birth? Either John was depressed and wasn’t thinking rationally, or he had completely misunderstood Jesus’ role (cf. 3.17).
Personally, I think the former is more likely, though perhaps tinged with an element of the latter. John was probably incarcerated in a hole or cave underground. More than a prophet he may have been, but he was still subject to the full range of human emotions. If Jesus was raising the dead, why wasn’t he also setting this prisoner free? Was not the evil Herod overdue for the threshing floor (see 3.17-20)?
If John could be depressed, or at least lose his perspective, and still draw Jesus’ highest praise, how much more should we acknowledge and bear with our own weaknesses, and others’? There is no shame in getting down or depressed.
Note the antidote though: Jesus points John to the Scriptures (22, see Isa 35.1-6; 61.1), reassuring him that God is in control and that his purposes are being fulfilled in the way Isaiah prophesied. There is no better way for us to get a right perspective on life than to turn to God and his Word. It may well take more than that, but not less.
The great problem for John, as for us today, is that while we see signs of God’s kingdom, we do not yet see its fullness. The advantage we have over John though is that we live on the other side of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. We have the witness of Luke (and others) to the greatest sign and victory of all. God’s kingdom reign has been inaugurated, and Jesus’ return in glory to consummate his kingdom is assured. That gives us a sure, eternal hope, which mocks even death. It is in this sense alone that we are greater than John (28).
From which passages of scripture do you draw greatest comfort? Have you thought to note them for ready reference?
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the eternal hope I have in Christ Jesus. Grant that the light of his glorious Gospel may always shine into my life, even in its darkest moments, and give me the wisdom to understand your mysterious ways; in his name I ask it. Amen
Michael Hewat is currently serving as the Senior Minister at West Hamilton Community Church, New Zealand
Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash