John the Baptist
John the Baptist was one of the great heroes of the Christian faith. In fact, Jesus said, “among those born of women none is greater than John.” Before his birth, the angel prophesied that he would be “great before the Lord.” He was “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from him mother’s womb.” It was John who prepared the way for Jesus. John witnessed the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus after John had baptized him, and John heard the Father’s word of affirmation of the Son come down from heaven. John identified Jesus as “the Son of God” and “the Lamb of God.” If anyone had reason to be certain about who Jesus was, it was John.
Yet John had a moment of doubt. He sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him, “Are you the one?”
Why did John doubt?
One reason for John’s doubt may have been his limited understanding of the Messiah’s ministry. John correctly understood that the Messiah would be the ultimate judge, but John did not understand the scope of Jesus’ redemptive ministry. He saw Jesus’ ministry as limited to national Israel, and Jesus judgment as against Rome. So when he got word that Jesus had healed a centurion’s servant and praised the centurion’s faith, it confused John. The centurion commanded an occupying force in Israel. He was the epitome of Israel’s enemies. And yet Jesus affirmed him.