“And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3)
John the Baptist was telling his world about Jesus. He was letting everyone know that the Messiah, the Saviour, had come! He told his own disciples that Jesus was the Saviour of the World. I love his words written in John’s gospel records when he sees Jesus walking: “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
John baptized Jesus. When Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened, the Spirit of God descended upon Him, and the Father spoke from heaven. John witnessed all of this!
His message was one of righteousness and judgment. Luke 3 tells us that he was thrown in prison because he confronted Herod about an unlawful marriage. This guy had guts; he had spiritual zeal. He was a man of passion. In fact Jesus said “among those born of women there…was none greater than John the Baptist.” Yet in Matthew 11, we learn that John was dealing with unmet expectations. He sent his disciples to ask the Lord, “Are You the One, or should we look for another?”
John was going through a crisis of faith. He was in a season of doubt. He was at a place where life did not make sense. He was hearing about all the things that Jesus was doing for everyone else, yet he sat in a cold, dark, prison cell. I mean, come on, Jesus was his cousin! Why didn’t He come and get him out?
“Is God done with me? Did I blow it? What have I done to deserve this? I’ve got all these dreams in my heart! Is God really finished with me?”
These are similar to questions we ask. “Jesus, are you going to get me a new job or not? Jesus, are you going to fix my life, or not? Why don’t you heal me? Why don’t you fix my spouse?”
Like John, we can be impatient, we can misunderstand the agenda of our Lord. We look for an easier life, a better job, more money, a greater opportunity, or just any opportunity. We all go through this. We expect Jesus to do something. We believe our motives are pure. We know it would bring Him glory. But still He fails to come through.
Interestingly, John would not get out of prison. He would die by beheading.
He never saw the Resurrection.
He never saw the birth of the church.
He never saw Saul from Tarsus become Paul the Apostle.
So what do you do?
Looking at Matthew 11:1-6, I see three things that will help us deal with unmet expectations.
1. Send word to Jesus
“he sent two of his disciples.” (Matthew 11:2)
Ask the Lord. We can take our doubts and questions to the Lord. He can handle the toughest question. But also, ask your friends to pray for you. Ask your friends to go to Jesus on your behalf.
John was in a place where he could not go directly to the Lord. Now, of course, we can always approach the throne of grace, and we need to do so often. But when it’s hard to start praying yourself, get other people praying for you.
2. Remember who He is.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matthew 11:4-5)
Jesus took John back to the Scriptures to remind him that His purpose for coming was bigger than what John realized. God will always be faithful to his word. He will not always be faithful to our expectations but He will always be faithful to His word. In our crisis of faith, we need to remember who God is and why He came. He came to save. He will eventually make all things right.
You may not get what you want on this side of eternity. But if you know Jesus, you are saved from eternal death and you have a glorious future ahead of you.
3. Don’t be offended.
“And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”(Matthew 11:6)
I love this concept. Don’t be offended when Jesus doesn’t do what you want Him to. “Well, Lord, even if you are not going to answer my prayer the way I think you should, I will still worship and love You.” When life doesn’t make sense, worship.
Don’t get mad at God.
Don’t think that God does not love you.
Don’t think that He has forgotten you.
Isaiah 55:8-9 helps a lot.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
So we rest in God and believe and trust in Him to do what is best despite our circumstances.