Early in Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist was put in prison. While in prison, John experienced what we all experience at times: doubt. This doubt led him to send messengers to Jesus, asking Him if He were the true Messiah. Of all people, John knew who Jesus was, but sitting in prison can really cause you to rethink your life. When these messengers came to Jesus, He responded by quoting passages from Isaiah that highlight the work of the Messiah as proof of His identity. Isaiah 35:5-6 says:
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
And Isaiah 61:1:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Do you notice what Jesus doesn’t say to John?
There is no mention of liberty being given to captives.
Jesus tells John, “Yes I am the Messiah, but you have been chosen to remain in prison.” Jesus wanted John to understand that remaining in prison was exactly where John was to remain for the glory of the Kingdom of God. In many ways, this is what God says to Paul in 2 Corinthians, “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfected in weakness.”
Jesus being who He says He is has very little to do with our physical well-being. He is God. He is the Messiah. He is the Christ. And we have been called to suffer in our lives in various ways so that God might bring glory to Himself and joy to us.
For some, this means prison or torture or death. For others it means cancer or financial ruin or a car accident. Whatever God has called us to suffer, He has called us to remember that He is God and He is good. Our suffering in prison or sickness is light and momentary. The glory that is to come is infinitely worthy of suffering in this life.
The good news is that John was liberated at the hands of king Herod. When his life was taken, He met the Lord was freer than anyone still living on earth. This is the destiny of all who trust in Christ. We may have doubts, but we must never loose sight of Jesus, even from within a prison cell or a cancer ward or the court room. Jesus is who He says He is, and He is worth bearing the suffering that life brings.