When in Doubt


John the Baptist’s job was to announce that the kingdom of God was at hand; he was the last and greatest prophet. Yet, for his forthrightness, he found himself imprisoned in a dusty jail near Judea. He baptized his cousin, Jesus; he testified about him, “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). And still, he doubted. Hearing reports of all that Jesus was doing, he wondered that maybe his expectations of the kingdom didn’t match reality. As he awaited his death sentence, he wondered if this Jesus was someone on whom he could bank his life. 

  • What expectations do you have of Jesus?


18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What task did John give to his disciples (vs. 19)? Why does this seem a surprising question for John to ask?
  2. How did Jesus respond to John’s question (vss. 21, 22)? 
  3.  Consider Isaiah 35:5, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap…,” and Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” How do these Messianic prophecies compare to verse 22? Why would this be helpful to John as an answer?
  4. How do you respond when Jesus isn’t who you thought he would be? Do you doubt? Without fear, take your questions to him and wait for his gentle, yet powerful reply. 


Jesus’ life and teaching counter our doubts. His words and deeds give clarity and correction to our expectations. Jesus responded, without rebuke, to John’s lack of faith and confused notions. His powerful reply to John was to live out exactly who the Old Testament prophets described the Messiah to be. Jesus’ miracles established his deity, showed his compassion, and gave a taste of kingdom life. When we wonder, in light of our circumstances and expectations, if Jesus really is someone we can bank our life on, run to Scripture to taste, see, and know the goodness of Jesus for yourself.

  • In times of uncertainty, draw near with confidence to his throne of grace, to receive mercy and grace to help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Spend some time sharing with God your fears, doubts, and confusion.
  • Ask God for clarity and understanding of his Word.
  • Ask God for eyes to see and ears to hear his words of comfort and truth.