The more time one spends in the Old Testament, the more the New Testament speaks to us more eloquently and convincingly. Jesus was continually speaking the Word of the Jewish people to them……from the Law and the Prophets. In Luke 7, Jesus has just raised a widow’s son from death. Two disciples of John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin) who is in prison, come and ask Jesus while he is in the midst of healing in a crowd a question from John, “Are you the Messiah or are we to expect another?”
Jesus says to them, “ Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.”
John, in his imprisonment, has a moment of doubt, but not unbelief. Jesus told John’s disciples to reassure him and tell him to remain strong and faithful. As Warren Wiersbe says, “Doubt is a matter of the mind. We cannot understand what God is doing or why he is doing it. Unbelief is a matter of the will. We refuse to believe God’s Word and obey what he tells us to do.”
John did not have the perspective on Jesus’ ministry that we do. Wiersby continues, “John had pronounced judgment, but Jesus was doing deeds of love and mercy. John had promised that the Kingdom was at hand, but there was no evidence of it so far. John had presented Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” so John must have understood something about Jesus’ sacrifice, yet how did this sacrifice relate to the promised kingdom for Israel? He was perplexed about God’s plan and his place in it.” Jesus sends reassurance to John.
Then Jesus turns to his disciples and talks about John in verses 24-28: “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in in luxury are found in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say: Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.” ( a quote from Malachi 3:1 recalled by Jesus in Luke 7:27)
In reading Isaiah, Chapter 35 reveals much of this same theme:
“With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you. And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! (vs. 3-6)
“And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.” (vs. 8)
There is such a wonderful shining red thread that ties together the common themes, words, and promises from the Old Testament to the New. How the Jews of Jesus’ day could have known the Law and Prophets and yet not made the connection is astounding. Even the one who was closest to knowing the purpose of Jesus’ life and ministry had doubts at the end of his own life. But don’t we do the same thing? Circumstances are happening around us, yet we cannot make the connections. We cannot see their importance. We cannot understand. We doubt what is right in front of us. We doubt God’s plan and our place in it.
But Jesus points us to the things he is doing in the world today all around us, through us, and with us, and brings reassurance to us as well in our doubt and lack of understanding and in the end, he tells us. “Lo, I am with you always.” Thank God for the revelation of God in Jesus who presents to us great evidence of the truth of the Word of God, who becomes the Word of God to us.