My Thoughts about John
Anxiety is no stranger to those living on or off the Autism Spectrum. For me and others living on the spectrum, anxiety and fear are predominant emotions. Stimming is one way I use, sometimes unconsciously, to soothe when agitated. I do the rocking, knee boggling, and hand clasping. I pace the floor too. But in addition to the stimming, I pray. A good thing to do whether you live on or off the spectrum.
Faith is one of the hardest words NOT to find in the Bible. In other words, if I were to look up every verse in the Bible that has the word faith, it would keep me busy for a while. There are stories in the Bible of those who had successful stories of faith; there are other stories, where we see even the strongest believers had moments of struggling with faith. One of them was John the Baptist.
Many people are familiar with the story of John’s miraculous birth, John’s baptism of Jesus, and John’s beheading. What some may not be as familiar with is the following story about John in Luke 7: 18-22:
18 And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.
19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
My thoughts about this story are that John was in a dark place, a prison. It is understandable that he’d be tempted with doubt and fear considering where he was. We know that later he would die in prison.
You might wonder how could John even wonder if Jesus was the One that should come, let alone pose the question to Jesus via two of his disciples. How could John ask if we should look for another being that he was the one who baptized Jesus? He witnessed that moment when the Spirit descended upon Jesus like that of a dove and heard the voice from Heaven proclaiming that Jesus was His son in whom He was well pleased. How could John ever have any doubt at all, for even a moment, after witnessing such an extraordinary event during Jesus’s time on this earth?
I think the answer is simple. John was a great man who did prepare the way for the Lord, but he was like us, a sinner. The only person who ever walked the face of this earth that wasn’t was Jesus.
John wasn’t immune from temptation. Even Jesus was tempted. John wasn’t immune from anxiety anymore than the rest of mankind. This story about John helps me to identify with him more. If he felt doubt, then I shouldn’t be surprised when I do too. My thought is he set the example for what I should do when fear and doubt come upon me, whether it be about Jesus or anything else going on in my life. John came out and asked the question that was weighing heavily on his mind. He sent his disciples to ask, but that was only because he couldn’t do it himself. Asking the One whom he had doubts about was the only way he would get an answer.
The discples found Jesus and asked John’s question. Jesus’s response was as surprising to me as John’s question. Jesus did not say something to the effect of “what in the world is John’s problem?” It doesn’t appear to me in the scripture that Jesus was upset with John asking the question if he was the One or should they look for another. Instead, he tells John’s disciples to tell John about how the blind see, the lame walk, the leper is healed. the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel preached. After the disciples leave, he speaks of John in verse 28 of this chaper as there not being a greater prophet born of woman than John.
The scripture doesn’t tell us about the disciples reporting back to John as to Jesus’s answer to his question. I can only assume they did report back. I’m just speculating but my thought is John received what he needed all along: blessed reassurance that indeed Jesus is the One.
John could have bottled up inside his doubts. He could have tried to pretend he wasn’t feeling them. I know a lot about that because sometimes that’s what I do. But John set the example of not doing that. Instead, speaking up and admitting what you are feeling. Instead of running away from doubt and fear, he faced it head on by asking the only One who could answer the question: Jesus.
When anxiety and/or doubt pay me a visit, I should follow John’s example. Don’t suppress. Don’t pretend all is well. Don’t ignore. Admit it by telling Jesus all about it in prayer. Besides, He already knows about it anyway. When I have had that talk with Jesus, I have received what I assume John the Baptist did so long ago: blessed assurance He is the One who came and will come again.