Luke 7:18-20 (NIV) John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'”
Some try to protect John’s reputation by saying that he really wasn’t doubting Jesus, but that he was simply prompting Him to declare Himself publicly as the Messiah to move the process along.
But the fact is, as John sat in prison, as he heard the things that Jesus was doing, the doubts did start to creep in. John knew what he had heard and seen at Jesus’ baptism (John 1:32-34), and that he himself had proclaimed Jesus to be the Lamb of God. But he, like a lot of others, had expected things to move quickly to their completion once the Messiah had actually appeared.
Yes, Jesus was doing all kinds of wonderful miracles, but what about taking away the sins of the world? Yes, He was delivering people from demons, but what about the deliverance of God’s people from the tyranny of the Romans? Yes, He was a great teacher, but why were so many still walking in error?
It’s important to note that Jesus’ performance was not lacking in any way. The problem was with John’s expectations. His understanding of what Jesus had come to do, coupled with his own frustration at being locked up, produced in him an impatience that things were moving forward so slowly.
Over the centuries, many people have become frustrated by their circumstances, and because their expectations of how Jesus and God would act to rescue them, and when that would happen, weren’t met. Then their faith would wane, and they would sometimes even turn away. But God’s actions, and the timing of those actions, are never dictated by the desires and expectations of people. God sees all things, even things that are hidden from any human eye, and He acts when the time is exactly right, not a moment before.
The correct response from God’s people when things don’t seem to be happening on time is for us to hold on to what we know, to stay faithful, and to wait patiently, knowing that every promise God has ever made to us will be fulfilled.
Father, I do sometimes get impatient while waiting for Your promises. Forgive me. I do sometimes lose faith and give up when my expectations are not fully met. Forgive me. Help me instead to do all that You suggest here. Help me to hold on to what I know, regardless of the circumstances. Help me to stay faithful, doing all that You have called me to do while I wait. And help me to wait patiently, knowing in my heart that every single promise You have made will be fulfilled. Amen.