In a prison cell, John the Baptist asked two of his followers to pose this question to Jesus: “Are you the one to come or should we look for another?” Luke 7:19
Why is John now wondering whether Jesus is the Messiah?
John was expecting the Messiah to come and quickly destroy the forces of evil and the powers of darkness but, instead, John was in grave danger and awaiting his fate at the hands of the brutal and brutally immoral King Herod.
Notice Jesus’ answer in Luke 7:22, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.”
Jesus’ answer is noteworthy not only in what he includes but also by what he leaves out.
Earlier, in Luke 4:18, quoting Isaiah 61, Jesus includes, “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives…”
It’s interesting that in responding to John, Jesus leaves that phrase out and instead adds in Luke 7:23, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Jesus knew that John’s imprisonment was part of God’s plan, and that John would not be released from prison except by death. As painful as that reality is, Jesus knows to remind John not to be offended by God’s providence.
Jesus likely heard John’s question beneath the question, “If you’re the Messiah then why am I in prison?” We have all asked the same question to Jesus, “If you’re the Messiah then why…?”
The great Anglican pastor and hymnwriter (who started off as a slave trader) John Newton once said, “Everything is necessary that God sends our way; nothing can be necessary that He withholds.”
It is important for us to accept Christ as he presents himself in scripture not as we would have him be. Jesus is actually warning John not to reject him because of an incorrect understanding of what Jesus came to do and the methods he employs to achieve his ends. Jesus is the Messiah who does the right things in the right way and at the right time. These are words of comfort. We can absolutely trust Jesus’ wisdom and power to do that which builds His Kingdom and grows His followers.