“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Later in John’s story he is arrested by Herod and put in a remote prison. While in prison he has time to think, and in spite of seeing the Holy Spirit descend and hearing the thundering voice of the Father, he begins to have some creeping doubts. So he sends word to Jesus with a question, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2)
Really? John the Great doubted? I can hear Thomas telling people in heaven when they call him “Doubting Thomas,” “John doubted too!” They all doubted at times. Too often we put these people on the hero pedestal and miss the moments like this when they are just like us. Who here hasn’t doubted at times? Wondered at times, “Is it really true? Is He really the Savior?” Looked into the sky and thought, “Is there really a God?” It’s easy to believe when the crowds are huge and God is doing amazing things, but when your life feels more like a prison and nobody’s shouting your name anymore, “Jesus are you real?”
He doubted. Are you doubting today? Are you worried that your doubts may mean you don’t have faith or that you are a spiritual failure? Look at John the Greatest who also was John the Doubting and see that God has room in His grace for our humanity and our moments of weakness.
“He must increase, but I must decrease”
After Jesus’ baptism, John’s ministry begins to diminish. His disciples come to him greatly worried because more people are going to Jesus than to John. John should be worried. His polls are down. His numbers are down. His stature is down. His influence is down. Yet perhaps his most famous words are his response, He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)
Here we see John’s true greatness. John was great because in his own eyes, John was small. The test of our self-assessment is not when things are good, but when things are bad and hard. Am I okay with less of me if it means more of Him? It’s like a teeter-totter. It’s been awhile, but do you remember the teeter-totter? For one person to go up the other person has to go down. True spiritual greatness is when my goal is to go down so that through my life Jesus can go up. G.K. Chesterton said it another way, “Alice must grow small if she is to be Alice in Wonderland.”
Could it be that we are missing some of what God could do here in our church and in your life because we refuse to grow small? The glory of Christ and what He did for us, when properly understood, shrinks us. The Cross says we’re sinners. The Cross says we are under judgment. The Cross says we can’t do it. The Cross says we can’t save ourselves. But as we embrace what Christ’s cross says, and as we shrink, something truly wonderful happens. He gets bigger. His sacrifice gets bigger. God’s love get’s bigger. But once we are small, now the wonderland of God’s grace overwhelms us and God’s love assures us and the wonder of it all amazes us. Amazing love! how can it be That Thou my God, shouldst die for me! (And Can It Be? Public Domain)
Thank you John the Greatest for showing us that to be the greatest we have to aspire to be the smallest.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.