The coming of the Messiah was long expected. But the manner of His appearance was assumed to be foreshadowed by the pomp and glory of Solomon in all his majesty. Like Solomon, the Messiah would restore the grand kingdom of Israel, and righteousness would again rule in the land.
John the Baptist knew from a child he was to announce the coming of the Messiah and prepare the way by preaching against the rampant sin of the day. He was fearless, naming King Herod as an adulterer for taking his brother’s wife and for that he was arrested and thrown in jail. Languishing there but hearing of Christ who worked miracles and preached widely, John wondered that if the Messiah has truly come would not he have been released and restored? Didn’t justice cry out for John whose only offense was the condemnation of sin? Where was this Messiah, his distant cousin who demonstrated the power to heal the blind, the crippled, and preached the gospel of the forgiveness of sin?
So from prison, he sent his visitors with the message, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matt 11;3) Is it any wonder that even the faith of John the Baptist should be strained in such dire circumstances? Does God condemn us if our faith falters in perilous situations?
Indeed, here is a lesson. The work of God is frequently past our understanding. His timing is seldom the same as ours. Even the drastic outcome of events can seem to be beyond the will of God. And our faith might well be tested by the train of events.
The Messiah sent word to John to keep the faith but the Baptist continued languishing in prison until one day, Herod’s new wife induced the King to present her the head of John. His execution was carried out immediately.
John the Baptist died not knowing that the Messiah himself would also be executed soon after. But he died in faith that the coming of the Messiah though different than expected, secured John’s salvation as well as all others who cling to faith in His name.