It suddenly struck me that this was exactly the answer that Jesus gave to John’s messengers. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 11:4-6:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, 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, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”
Jesus performed all the miracles Isaiah prophesied He would do, and threw in the healing of a leper and raising someone from the dead just for good measure. What Jesus did was He perfectly fulfilled the prophecy about Himself, and then referred John the Baptist back to that word. Jesus reminded John of the scriptures, to deal with his doubts. That’s Jesus’ method of dealing with our doubts.
Many of us have Bibles lying around gathering dust. Some of us even carry one. But when we’re struggling with unbelief, we don’t want a scripture; we want something tangible, something emotional that we can feel. We would rather have Jesus just put His arm around us and say something about how everything will be all right. That would make us feel better. (Rom. 10:17).
Jesus sent the Word back with John’s disciples. He knew this would stir up John’s spirit to overcome the doubt. Peter understood this about faith when he wrote about it in 2 Peter 1:12-15, which says,
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.”
Peter was stating how important it was for his words to be received, as they were, in truth, the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). To prove to them that these were not just fables he made up, Peter refers to the time they were with Jesus on the mountain. They saw Jesus shine as the brightness of the sun. The Shekinah glory cloud of God overshadowed them all, and they heard an audible voice out of heaven say, “This is my beloved Son: hear him” (Mark 9:7). They also saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. That is pretty impressive!
But Peter went on to say in 2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” What could possibly be more sure than all these supernatural signs? Peter gives that answer in the next verse when he talks about the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:20). The Scriptures are more sure and more faith building and doubt destroying than seeing Jesus transfigured or hearing an audible voice from heaven. Hallelujah!
The only sure way to overcome doubt is to place your faith in the Word of God and depend on that more sure word of prophecy. Don’t allow your five senses to dominate your thinking. You must come to a place to where God’s Word is more real to you than anything you can see, taste, hear, smell, or feel. When you’re in doubt, refer back to the Word of God just the way Jesus told John the Baptist to do. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word.
There are only two times recorded in the Bible when Jesus marveled at anything. Once He marveled at the people’s great unbelief (Mark 6:6), and in Matthew 8:10 He marveled at a Gentile soldier’s great faith. A faith that made Jesus marvel is worth examining. What was different about it? The number one difference was what the centurion said,
“But speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” (Matt. 8:8-9)
The centurion had a faith that was in God’s Word alone. He didn’t have to have Jesus come to his house and wave His hand over the sick servant. If Jesus would just give him a word, that was all he needed.
Contrast this centurion’s faith with the little faith of Thomas, who was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. The first time the risen Christ appeared to His disciples, Thomas wasn’t present. The other ten disciples told Thomas that Jesus was resurrected, but it was eight more days before Jesus appeared to His disciples with Thomas present.
“But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
Jesus walked up to Thomas and told him to put his finger into the print of the nails and thrust his hand into Jesus’ side and to not be faithless but believing. Thomas fell on his knees and confessed Jesus as his Lord and God.
“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Jesus placed a greater blessing on those who believe without seeing than those who believe because they have seen. In other words, there is a greater anointing on believing the Word than believing signs and wonders. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in signs and wonders. Jesus used them like a bell to draw people unto Himself and so should we. But the ultimate, the more sure word of prophecy, is the written Word of God. There is a greater blessing on just believing God’s Word than there is on believing because of supernatural circumstances. Those who are looking for circumstances to confirm their faith will fail when the strong battles of unbelief come. We have to get our faith so rooted in God’s Word alone that we can withstand a hurricane.
The reason Jesus didn’t try to make John feel better with a few kind words, an emotional touch, was not because He didn’t care. He cared for John so much that He gave John His best — the written Word of God. That’s how Jesus dealt with own His temptations (Matt. 4), and that was and still is God’s best way for us to deal with our temptations to not believe.
Maybe there’s a reason the Lord hasn’t used an emotional touch to deliver you from unbelief. Maybe it’s because He loves you so much that He’s trying to help you operate in the highest form of faith — faith that takes Him at His Word. If the least of the saints today are greater than John the Baptist was then (Matt. 11:11), surely the Lord is wanting us to operate on at least the same level in which He dealt with John’s unbelief.