A Moment with the Bible
As we begin chapter eleven, we notice that after Jesus concludes His discourse with the twelve, He goes about their cities teaching and preaching. “Their cities” refers to the Galilean cities. From 4:12 through 18:35, Matthew exclusively covers the Galilean ministry of Jesus. This part of His work lasted about a year and a half, just less that half of His three and half year ministry on the earth.
We will later learn why John the Baptist is in prison (Mt. 14), but for now Matthew relates to us a period of doubt that is expressed by John. Of course, John was the one who originally announced Jesus as the Messiah (Jn. 1:29), which was confirmed to him by a heavenly revelation when he saw the Spirit come upon Jesus in the form of a dove at His baptism (Jn. 1:33-34). Why would John now question whether or not Jesus was the “One?” Though the scriptures do not explicitly answer this question, the most likely answer is that things were not happening the way John envisioned. John may have had the typical Jewish picture of the coming Messiah where He would reign as King or at the very least not allow His servants to be at the mercy of unscrupulous men like Herod.
Jesus’ answer to the messengers sent by John is to first spend the next hour healing all manner of diseases and casting out evil spirits (Luke 7:21). Then Jesus told these messengers to go and tell John what they had seen. It is interesting that Jesus does not just answer John by saying, “Yes, I am the One.” Someone who was a fraud would have answered exactly that way. Instead, Jesus wants John to believe based on evidence. This is the critical point of our text and the lesson we need to learn. Faith in Christ is not “blind.” It does not accept Jesus simply based on His claim to be the Son of God. Jesus never asked anyone to believe in Him without evidence. It is foolish for anyone to believe without being able to give a reason for his or her faith (1 Pet. 3:15). This is exactly the reason Jesus performed such extraordinary miracles. In John 10:37-38, Jesus even challenged the Jews to believe Him based on His works, not simply on His words.