You Need a Visit from Jesus
And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Matthew 11:2–6
Why didn’t Jesus visit John the Baptist in prison? We know how highly God values ministry to the poor, needy, and imprisoned, so what’s happening here? It would seem that of all people, John (cousin of Jesus, way-preparer, and prophet of God) deserved a personal visit. Did he get one?
Yes, he did.
Jesus visited John in the same way that He visits you and me—through His Word. As we turn to God’s Word and prayerfully read it, God is present with us. As we are comforted by our brothers and sisters in Christ with an encouraging word from the Bible, God is present with us. As we sit under Bible teaching in church or elsewhere, God is present with us.
The message Jesus sent to John was the report of the fulfilled prophecy given by John’s predecessor, the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 35:4–6, the prophecy is made that the coming of the Messiah would be accompanied these works of God: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
This is the perfect message for Jesus to send to John because it means the savior has come. It means deliverance for the captives, of which he was one. It was also perfect because it was sufficient. God’s Word is the conduit through which He distributes His grace. And His grace is sufficient.
But if I were John, I probably would have been hoping for some more direct interaction with Jesus rather than to hear Him recite some Scripture. It can be hard for us to be content with the God-given means at our disposal. There’s a song called “Faith and Doubt” by Aaron Espe, in which he relates the same struggle to be content with God’s Word and prayer. He sings, “But now I can’t pray. I don’t feel like talking to God. I need somebody out there with a little skin on ‘em.” Haven’t we all been there?
Are Christ’s visits to us through His Word any less significant than this visit through the means of His Word to John the prisoner? No. Are Christ’s visits to us through His Word any less real than His post-resurrection appearances to His disciples? No. Just because something is done through means or received by faith does not make it less real than if it were direct and by sight. We need a visit from Jesus, too. Open God’s Word and get one.