In today’s Bible reading* John the Baptizer’s disciples came to Jesus to ask if He was the long-awaited Messiah, or should they continue waiting for someone else. When Jesus arrived for His baptism, John had identified Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) John knew that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. So why did he send his disciples to ask Jesus?
At this point, John was imprisoned for preaching against Herod and his wife’s relationship. (This Herod [Antipas] had married his brother [Philip]’s wife, Herodias, contrary to God’s law [Matthew 14:1–4]; Mark 6:17) I’m sure that John was weary from waiting for Jesus to rise up and establish His Kingdom, overthrowing the Roman authorities, and therefore freeing John from his prison. Later, Jesus’ own Disciples expected Jesus to overthrow the Romans and free His people.
Jesus sent John’s disciples back to him to tell him what they had seen (Matthew 11:4-5): the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2 of the blind receiving their sight, the lame walking, healing of lepers, the deaf receiving their hearing, and the poor receiving the Gospel message.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn,
Isaiah 61:1–2 (CSB)
In fact, Jesus had quoted this passage when He returned from His temptation in the desert, saying that Isaiah’s prophecy was being fulfilled. (Luke 4:18–19)
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Luke 4:18–19 (CSB)
It’s natural to be discouraged. John the Baptizer was discouraged. He expected the long-awaited Messiah to rise up and conquer the Roman Empire. And John wasn’t alone in this expectation. Why didn’t Jesus do it?
Jesus’ first coming was to fulfill the Biblical prophecies of a suffering servant. His second coming — when He brings His Kingdom to full consummation — will happen sometime later. In fact, we are still awaiting Jesus’ second coming.
But as sure as the long-awaited Messiah surely came and fulfilled the suffering servant passages, He will come again and fulfill the rest of the Old Testament’s prophecies of the long-awaited Messiah.
Don’t give up hope. Be encouraged!
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: