Have you ever been given a task or position that felt very important, but you weren’t sure if you were up for the job? I think it is safe to say that we have all been there. Sometimes we succeed, but more often than not we fail.
We place a lot of expectation on ourselves but especially those who are in authority. To be specific, I am thinking of our pastors, elders, and deacons. Yes, we regard these people with a higher standard, but I think we sometimes forget that they too are human and that we should extend grace when they seem “less than perfect.”
The perfect example of this is John the Baptist. Other than the Messiah, the only other person that the people of Israel were earnestly waiting for was the messenger who would prepare the way for the Messiah!
This man has such an incredible story! Even before he was born, there was miracle after miracle—from his father being visited by an angel of the Lord to his mother feeling him move around in her belly and becoming filled with the Holy Spirit because a pregnant Mary carrying the Messiah was nearby.
John grew up with so much expectation
on him from the beginning.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. | Luke 1:76-79
John the Baptist lived as a humble person preaching the message of repentance and proclaimed the gospel of the Messiah as the Lamb who would take away the sins of the world. He was not afraid to speak the truth even when it ultimately led to his own imprisonment.
However, during this time of incarceration,
we really begin to see the cracks in the armor.
John, who personally grew up as a relative of Jesus, proclaimed the truth of the coming Messiah and the need for repentance, and even baptized Jesus personally before the beginning of his ministry, actually doubted if all of it was true! He actually sent three of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was actually the Messiah or if they should look for another (Matthew 11:2-3).
We just know that Herod threw him into jail, and he was eventually beheaded. However, the Bible doesn’t go into detail about John’s prison experience in-between, except for this one encounter that really showed John at his lowest point. We get a glimpse of this messenger question the message that he has been proclaiming.
In a sense, John ends up questioning his entire existence.
Where we would have judged, Christ showed compassion and grace. He told the disciples to return to John and tell him everything that Christ is doing. Essentially Christ was encouraging John’s disciples to preach truth to the preacher! He could have very easily “demoted” John the Baptist because of his doubts in Him, but Christ actually reaffirmed John’s calling as well as his role of being the fulfillment of prophecy to the public.
If someone like John the Baptist struggled with belief, then I think we should take heart when we struggle as well. In likewise manner, we should encourage others who are grappling with their faith as well. Speak truth with love and give affirmation of their identity in Christ.