Shelby Abbott

My Comfort in John the Baptist’s Doubt

Let’s not celebrate doubts and allow them to loiter in our hearts—but let’s not be afraid of them either. John the Baptist was bold enough to dispatch his disciples to pose a pointed, doubt-filled question to the second person of the Trinity. His question is an example of someone who took the fight to his doubt instead of allowing it to quietly linger and consume him.

Doubting Thomas gets most of the press, but for me, John the Baptist is a more compelling New Testament example of a doubter.
He was a godly man whom Scripture identifies as “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23; cf. Isa. 40:3), because he was the precursor to the Messiah.
At one point, John directed his own disciples to stop following him and instead follow Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
He obviously believed, right? I mean, he made it clear to those who asked: he was not the Messiah (John 1:20) and Jesus was.
As an unborn baby, John the Baptist leaped inside his mother’s womb at the presence of Christ (Luke 1:41). He even got to hear the voice of God the Father and see the heavens opened as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus after John baptized him in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:13–17).
That’s right—John heard God’s voice thunder, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Pretty compelling proof that Jesus was, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah.
In light of all this evidence, you’d think John would’ve never doubted that Jesus was who he claimed to be.
But John had his doubts.
Even John Wasn’t Sure
Near the end of his life, John was in prison facing imminent death. He called two of his disciples and requested that they go to Jesus and ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:19). John was essentially saying, “I think I believe you’re the Messiah, but in this moment, I’m not 100 percent sure.”
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