With hindsight, this is a strange conversation between John the Baptist and Jesus. John had baptised Jesus in the Jordan, and had himself declared that Jesus was the one they were all waiting for. Yet now, we suddenly hear that John is in doubt as to whether Jesus really was the Messiah, or whether he should be looking for someone else.
We might wonder, now, how John could have asked this question, but it only serves to show how different Jesusí approach was from what everybody, including John the Baptist, had been expecting. He had not asserted his authority and judged the people. He had not driven the oppressive Roman occupiers from the land and led his people to victorious freedom. More than that, John was in prison and must have felt that he had reached a low place for the supposed herald of the Messiah. Where was the glory? Where was the victory? Where was the new kingdom?
Decades later, Matthew had no doubts as he wrote his account. Even as he described Johnís questions, he called Jesus ďMessiahĒ. Jesusí answer was to draw peopleís attention to his actions. The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the good news is preached and all who accept Jesus are blessed.
Jesusí ministry came as a surprise even to John the Baptist. As Johnís own circumstances were dire, and Jesus seemed not to be what he expected, he became discouraged. Verse 6 contains a little warning not to take offense at Jesusí methods if they differ from what we expect. Itís a warning that rings true to us today. When things arenít going as well as we hoped, and when God is not acting as we expected, it is easy to become discouraged and confused, even to the point where we feel our faith ebbing away. Do not fear. Godís plans and purposes are perfect in all circumstances.