by Reverend William Ferrell
Matthew 11:2-11a “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in king’s houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.” Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist”. John the Baptist has been arrested by Herod Antipas for telling the king that he was wrong for marrying his brother, Phillip’s wife.
Prisons during that time was dingy, rat infested, and filthy. I can imagine John after being arrested was not afraid or alarmed at the situation for two reasons. The first reason, he was the cousin of Jesus. He had proclaimed that the coming Messiah was at hand; and the second reason, Herod listened to John and took his words to heart. Herod kept John safe. While John was waiting for Jesus to come and get him, he kept getting reports of the miracles and the teaching that was being preached. John, like the others who had heard the prophets preach of the coming Messiah, assumed He was coming to overthrow the Roman government and set up His kingdom here on the earth. That the years, of oppression and dictatorship was soon to end. Jesus was the Answer they had heard there parents and grandparents talk about. His message, His mission, and His ministry were misunderstood.
I can imagine John maybe not eating the first day while in prison just waiting for his name to be called to be released. His disciples didn’t come with news of his release was in progress but about the crowds following Jesus, the blind sight being restored, diseases being healed, the dead raised; Devout to the things of God, a strange fellow eating locust and honey out in the wilderness baptizing and declaring that the kingdom of God was at hand. That one who he was not worthy of tying his shoes was nearby.
When He saw Jesus he had the privilege of baptizing Him and along with all the others there that day heard the voice of God speak from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son whom I am well pleased”. Many in town feared John and his message, especially the high priest, because he was preaching repentance of sins. Hours in prison turned into days, weeks, and no Jesus. Disappointment was setting in, then came bewilderment, even anger, and finally he had enough. Here I’ve risked my life for him and he’s got a great following and won’t even come see about me. So what the lame is walking, I’m locked up; so what the deaf hear, I’m locked up. You doing all this great miracles and can’t or won’t get me out of prison. So he says to his disciples, go and ask Him is He the One, is He the Messiah, is He the Promise, or is there another? I believe some of you signed up for this Christian journey because you heard that Jesus would be your bail bondsman. Or maybe that Jesus was the hookup for healing, your connection for a car, your homeboy for a house, your freedom from food stamps, or he would bail you out of your relationship and give you a new boo. You’ve heard and seen the miracles in others life, but you’re still waiting on your stuff. “Are you the One or is there another”? Jesus said go tell John what you see and hear. Don’t get offended because of what I’m doing for others; stay encouraged not discouraged, stay convinced not confused; Jesus said not to store up stuff where rust and moth corrupts but store up treasures in heaven. Don’t fail to realize that God has a plan.
Don’t get ahead of God because God has not revealed everything to you. True believers trust God “Through it all.” Anything other than all-out commitment to God will end in disaster. G. S. Bowes comments on the futility of all worldly ambition which is not accompanied by dedication to God. Citing four of the world’s most powerful rulers, he writes:”Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations. He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, and he died at an early age in a state of debauchery. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the knights he had slaughtered, committed suicide by swallowing poison. Few noted his passing, and he left this earth completely un-mourned. Julius Caesar, ‘dyeing his garments in the blood of one million of his foes,’ conquered 800 cities, only to be stabbed by his best friends at the scene of his greatest triumph. Napoleon, the feared conqueror, after being the scourge of Europe, spent his last years alone.”
Note that Jesus doesn’t rebuke John for his comments but speaks highly of him and his commitment to the cause; after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, two of the disciples was walking on the road to Emmaus when Jesus came upon them and they didn’t recognize Him. They assumed he was a visitor in town and Jesus asked what was wrong, they responded saying haven’t you heard what happened here the last few days. This Jesus who we thought was the One who the prophets foretold was arrested and sentenced to death. He was crucified, buried among the rich in a borrowed tomb. The women went to the tomb and said they saw a vision of two angels who said Jesus wasn’t there, so we went to look and sure enough he was not there. It’s been three days and we’re just wondering was He the One. As I close, It is written that Herod granted his wife daughter any wish even if she wanted half his kingdom, and she conspired with her mother and asked for John the Baptist head on a platter. The king was grieved because he liked John, but his reputation was on the line in front of his friends.
So John was beheaded, and the disciples heard and came and claimed his body, all the apostles was killed either by being sewn into, crucified, boiled in oil, or beheaded. Paul tells us that in the last days there will be many false prophets fooling even the elect, there would be wolves among you in sheeps clothing, wheat and tares growing together, don’t let anyone preach another gospel to you. But remember that you don’t have to look for another because Jesus is the One!