There is an interesting passage I have been meditating on that has always seemed odd to me. John the Baptist is a prophet whom I have always admired, especially since Jesus spoke so highly of him. But there is an incident that occurs when John is in prison that I have always interpreted as a time where he was having doubts about his ministry. That never made complete sense to me, since Jesus was the same man John had called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”! After taking another look at the accounts in Matthew and Luke, I have come to another conclusion for you to consider. Let’s look at what Luke said.

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.” (Luke 7:20-23 NKJV)

I think one problem was that I would stop at the end of verse 22. But in verse 23 Jesus not only reassures John that He is in fact the Messiah, but also reminds him to focus on the big picture of His mission, and not be offended because someone else is getting a miracle deliverance and seemingly John is not. What do I mean by that?

Well just a few chapters earlier in Luke, Jesus gets up to read in the synagogue from Isaiah and fulfills a prophetic picture of what His earthly ministry would be.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18, 19)

Jesus, by giving the answer He gave about the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the lepers being cleansed, and the poor having the gospel preached to them, is reminding John of a couple of things.
1. It’s not about you.
2. Focus on and give thanks for what God is doing, not on what He is seemingly not doing.
I believe John asked the question, not because He was starting to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah, but because he knew the prophecy Jesus was fulfilling from Isaiah 61. John was trying to say, “the sick are healed, the lame walk, but what about delivering this captive?” And that is why Jesus added verse 23 to His reply to John’s disciples and reminded him not to be offended.

So what are some applications of this for us today?

Have you ever been striving for something in prayer with God? Maybe it was for restoration of health. Perhaps you were struggling financially, or were battling an addiction. And in the heat of the battle someone comes along that prays one time, and gets an instant reply. They quickly return to health, or get an inheritance from a long lost uncle, or are delivered from an addiction. Or a marriage or other family relationship is healed. While all of this is going on, you are still in the trenches doing battle and calling upon The Lord for deliverance. In times like these, it would be easy to resent what God has done for the other person rather than “rejoicing with those who rejoice”. Rather than focusing on what God has done and being thankful, we are tempted to turn inward and focus on what has not been done and become offended. This is dangerous ground, for a root of bitterness will defile us and those around us if we do not dig it out. (Hebrews 12:15) We are serving a Savior who has promised that He will never leave us, and will be with us always (Matthew 28:20) and that is a promise we can rest in.

Another application of this principle of not being offended when someone else gets an answer from God can be seen in two other miracles that Jesus performed. I would like to call attention to how these stories would have changed if resentment and bitterness had been harbored and offense had been taken.

In Luke chapter 8, Jairus comes and begs jesus to heal his little girl. When Jesus was walking with Jairus to his house to heal her, a ceremonially unclean woman with an issue of blood causes Jesus to stop when she reaches out, touches His garment, and is healed. While Jesus is ministering to her, Jairus’ servants come and tell him that his daughter had died. Can you imagine how different things would have been if he had become offended and lashed out in anger because this woman’s miracle had delayed Jesus from getting to his daughter before she died? He would have gone into unbelief and lost a daughter.

Or what about the man who was lame from birth, who sat at the Beautiful Gate by the temple in Acts 3? What if, when Peter and John mentioned the name of Jesus, the beggar had been offended because Jesus was a frequent visitor to the temple, and had healed thousands of people, but had never stopped and healed him? His miracle would literally have passed him by.

So don’t short circuit your answer from God by becoming offended when someone else’s prayers are answered. Rejoice with those who rejoice and gain courage from the knowledge that Jesus knows exactly what He is doing. Be heartened in the promise that He will never leave you or forsake you. You have not been abandoned. And in contentment, rest in the assurance that God is working all things together for good for saints like you that love Him. (Romans 8:28)