John the Baptist was a miracle child. He was a gift from God to his parents and to the world. John was the voice crying in the wilderness. He heralded the coming of Jesus Christ. Christ Himself said there was no greater than John the Baptist.
John probably did not look like a gift to the world to most of those looking at him. He probably looked more like a homeless lunatic. After all, he lived in the desert instead of town. His diet may not have been kosher. Honey is probably kosher, but I don’t know about the locusts. Besides, kosher or not, bugs is bugs, and most people do not want to eat them. His clothing certainly left a lot to be desired. He was covered up, but that’s about all you could say for his clothes. (It is interesting that John’s clothes were the same clothing that Adam and Eve wore – animal skins that required that an innocent animal die.) But, there was something about John… He preached repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And people listened to him! They came to him. They listened. They followed him right down into the river of Jordan to baptized out of their old religion and into the new religion that John preached was coming.
It is really not speculation to say that John the Baptist’s parents had told him all about his own miraculous birth as well as the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. The thing is that while John had the books of the Bible from Genesis through Malachi, he did not have Matthew through Revelation as they had not yet been written. So, he didn’t have everything necessary to understand the details of events of his exact time.
Let’s take a look at things from John’s perspective. He knew who he was. He knew that Jesus was the promised savior. John had no visions of grandeur. That was pretty obvious by his lifestyle. Probably, like Moses, he saw far beyond the material things of the world. He knew a better world was coming. He also knew that while he was the prophet of the day, that his following would shrink as the followers of Jesus grew in number. What John didn’t know was exactly how Jesus was going to bring in the kingdom for which John longed with all his heart.
Then…. Jesus began to preach. Jesus took some of John’s disciples as His own selected twelve. And John, well John continued to preach. His preaching got him thrown into prison. He was in prison month after weary month. During his months in prison the demon of doubt assaulted John. All the things John ‘knew’ about Jesus did not seem to be compatible with the current situation in John’s life. He was an innocent man. He preached the unchanging truth of the Holy Scriptures. He was unjustly imprisoned for telling the truth and calling for repentance. So, from a human viewpoint, something was not going right! John may have thought, ‘Well….. mom and dad were old when I was born. Maybe their thinking was a little bit messed up by the time they got around to telling me that story. Those who saw the events leading up to my birth are dead or too old to be sure their thinking is clear anymore, so I don’t have anyone to ask. And Jesus, the story surrounding his birth is a little odd to say the least. Maybe I just misunderstood something somewhere.’
Of course we don’t have any idea of what was going on in John’s mind. Maybe it was nothing of the sort. We do know what John did. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus. He didn’t have the Holy Bible complete with the New Testament, but John did have Jesus Himself. So to deal with his doubt John sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘are you the One? Or should we look for another?’ It may have been that John himself was quite certain that Jesus was the One, and there was no need to look for another. His disciples may have been the ones doubting and in need of assurance. In that case John was doing what all strong believers should do. He sent his disciples directly to the source. It may have been a little bit of doubt on both John’s part and the part of the disciples. The outcome is the same either way. John’s disciples went to Jesus and asked the question, ‘Look Jesus. John is in prison, and they aren’t very nice to him there. In fact they hate him. So we just want to know. Tell us the truth. Are you the One, or is there another we are to look for?’ Instead of speaking an answer Jesus showed them the answer. They saw Jesus do miracles that could only be the work of God. So, the disciples of John had their own doubts put to rest, and they took the news to John who would have been comforted tremendously by what they told him.
And here we are today. Christians know Jesus Christ is the Savior promised to the world in Genesis. He is the One. We know it. We trust our eternal destination to Him. Through Him, we know we will enter the kingdom of heaven and spend eternity in the presence of God. What a relief!
But, here we are, stuck in this present reality. Our most perfect day is not a really perfect day. If we are having a good hair day spent in the company of pleasant people that we love, it is probably also a day where we have to wear our fat jeans and a little extra makeup to cover blotchy patches on our skin. Or, on that perfect day for a guy, there is probably a little too much grey in the beard for stubble to look cool and there may be a thin spot or receding hair line to go with it. And there is probably that hangover to go with it. You know – your belly hangs over your belt and there is no way you can keep your stomach sucked in all day. And then are the really serious things. Someone you love is facing a dire situation and that is on your mind even though you are having a good day. Someone you love is not with you to enjoy you good day. They may be far away, and they may be so far away they are not even on earth. There really is no perfect day. There are always things that may cause us to wonder what God is up to, and potentially to doubt God. And, we have no disciples that we can send directly to Jesus to ask Him what is going on. So what are we supposed to do?
We are supposed to do exactly what John did. We are to go directly to Jesus Christ with the problems, the doubts, and the fears. We do this through reading the Bible and prayer. That is how you get through doubt and difficult times. It never changes. God is there with comfort. He is a very present help in times of trouble. It is often true that while we may not doubt heaven, we doubt our daily bread. Our doubts can so overwhelm us that we are not able to function. The sin is to not deal with the doubt. And the way to deal with is through prayer and Bible Study.
I read somewhere that our prayers are sometimes not answered because we are using the shotgun approach. We throw everything at God like the pellets from a shotgun shell, but we really don’t have a specific request. So, I began to think, ‘What is the most important request that I make to God? What do I want most when I pray?’ This may not be the most unselfish request I could make, but my most important request at this time is ‘Help me to trust You more.’ That is what I want to do. Call me slow, but it has taken me this full year up to know to narrow it down to that one request. I still make all my usual prayer requests, and I know that God hears me. But trust is the major request. John the Baptist and his followers were basically asking for the same thing. They wanted to understand what was going on, but they also wanted to simply trust Jesus to be the One in Charge. We don’t have to understand it all. We don’t have to know all the answers. We simply need to trust God more. When we don’t know what is going on, when we don’t know why something happened, when we can’t understand current events, we can still have confidence that God knows all the answers and that everything is going according to His plans.
Ps. Something I thought of regarding John the Baptist is that while he spent a months in prison his death was speedy. They just chopped off his head and it was over. He didn’t have to suffer through a crucifixion.
By Barbara Henderson