And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus,saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’” And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
If we recall from the first chapter of John, John the Baptist came before Jesus to prepare the way for Jesus' ministry by bringing the masses to repentance. When John first saw Jesus, he said "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29John 1:29 (NKJV)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! ). And further... "John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”" (John 1:32-34John 1:32-34 (NKJV)
And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God." )
John was convinced of Jesus. His destiny to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah was prophesied. He had spent his entire life, even from before his birth, filled with the Spirit of God (Luke 1:5-17Luke 1:5-17 (NKJV)
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children," (Malachi 4:4-5) and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." ). John had seen and knew who Jesus was.
And then the trouble came.
When John sent messengers to Jesus to ask, "Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?", he was asking from a prison cell. John had spoken against Herod regarding his marrying his brother Philip’s wife, and Herod's new wife wanted to have John killed. Herod feared John because he knew John was a holy man, and attempted to protect him by placing him in prison. Ultimately, his new wife got her way, and used trickery and seduction to have John beheaded (See Mark 6:14-29Mark 6:14-29 (NKJV)
Now King Herod heard of him, for His name had become well known. And he said, "John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him." Others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets." But when Herod heard, he said, "This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!" For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. Because John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias' daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you." He also swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom." So she went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist!" Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb. ).
So here John was, faithfully serving God, being inspired by the Spirit of God who had always been with him, and when Jesus finally arrives on the scene, John winds up in prison. We must put ourselves into John's position here. How would we react? John may have thought the following:
All my life I've been different. I had this calling to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. I saw Him myself! I saw the Spirit descend on Him like a dove. I even baptized Him! He was supposed to be the one to bring God's Kingdom on Earth. But... here I am, stuck in prison because I did what God had me do.
And so John asked, "are you the one?" He had been so sure, I'm sure excited, fully knowing that Jesus was the Christ sent by God. And now when trouble comes he asks, "are you the one?"
And isn't it the same with us? Even though the Spirit of God was with John, and had always been with John, like us, John was still a mere man. Mere men doubt. Mere men expect God to do things that God isn't going to do. Mere men get confused. Mere men only know in part, as if looking in a mirror - dimly (see 1 Corinthians 13:121 Corinthians 13:12 (NKJV)
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. ). Clearly by his question, John was faced with the realization that his expectations weren't being met. He wasn't even sure if Jesus was the One anymore. So when Jesus is sending message back to John, pointing out all the miracles which are being done (Not for John, but for others, remember), He adds, "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me" (Luke 7:23Luke 7:23 (NKJV)
And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." ). Jesus was saying: Just because you're in prison, John... don't be offended because of Me. Just because things aren't working out the way you expect... don't be offended because of Me. And we must remember the same... no matter what is happening, or not happening in our lives, we must not allow ourselves to be offended at God. We must guard our hearts in this. We will be blessed for it.
I also find it interesting how Jesus answers John. He doesn't say "yes, I am the One." Instead, He simply points to the miracles, and leaves it up to John. John already knew works were being done by Jesus. He had been told about them by his disciples (See Luke 7:18Luke 7:18 (NKJV)
Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. ). John also knew the scripture enough to know that the miracles were fulfilling the prophecies of the coming Messiah (See Isaiah 35:4-6Isaiah 35:4-6 (NKJV)
Say to those who are fearful-hearted, " Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you." Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. ). Jesus simply reminded John of the Word. Jesus would use a similar tactic later as well, stating to His disciples, "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves" (John 14:11). The works of Jesus speak to who He is. Do our works do the same?
Continuing in Luke 7, we see that Jesus speaks very highly of John - after John's messengers had departed. But He did not go to John, and John was never rescued from his prison cell. Ultimately, he was beheaded.
We live in a society which often only wants a "feel good" message of the Gospel. And the Gospel is a feel good message. It is, however, so often so much more. And in those confusing times of "more" we must be sure our focus is true, and like Paul, we must know how to be both abased and how to abound (see Philippians 4:11-13Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ).
Jesus said we are blessed if we don't allow ourselves to become offended in Him.