When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (NIV)
We might have thought John the Baptist would have been pretty sure of who Jesus was. He was the one who prepared the way for him, who baptised him, who urged people to follow him. And yet, imprisoned by evil Herod, he seems to have doubts.
A reminder to us that doubt is not the opposite of faith. Doubt can be part of our faith journey. I may preach about Jesus, know a fair bit about Jesus, claim to follow Jesus, and yet still have my doubts.
When all around me seems to be falling apart I may both believe that Jesus is Lord and yet wonder what he is doing to exercise his authority. I may both believe he cares for me and yet occasionally succumb to worry that he may have too many other things on his mind to truly come to my aid.
John might have believed Jesus to be the Messiah but in mortal danger in a dank prison he might have wanted reassurance. Jesus gave him that reassurance not in the form of a lecture or reasoned argument. He reassured him by referring to the works he was doing.
When we doubt, we may need to be similarly reminded. Jesus is still the promised one, still the Lord. We just need to open our eyes and ears to the evidence all around us rather than sink into despair. Doubt is real, but is not the final reality.