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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

I have been thinking a lot about what must have been going through the mind of John the Baptist when he was in prison and sent a messenger to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah:  “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3).

I’m imagining the feelings of deep loneliness, despair, and fear in his heart as he sat in prison with his death sentence approaching.  It’s fascinating that he, the greatest prophet, the forerunner of the long-anticipated Messiah, the one who stood at the dawn of the inaugurated Kingdom, had heavy doubts about Christ skipping frantically through his mind.

From the surface, this passage appears to be quite depressing:  we hear the cry of the mighty prophet in great turmoil, trapped in a prison cell to wallow in doubt, with nothing ahead of him but an unjust sentence of death.  I’d like to point out, however, that the situation of John works to illuminate for us the far greater message of life, truth, hope, and joy as echoed in the response of Jesus to him:  “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5)

I’m reminded by this passage how the people – those suffering from diseases, blindness, and demonic oppression, those with no food or money, and those with personal and emotional problems – must have been fascinated beyond comprehension by Jesus.  With just a word, He brought healing, restoration and life to many.  However, all those miracles, as fascinating as they were to the people at the time and as they are to us today, are intended to point us to larger truth:  Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God.

I’m reminded by this passage that there is power in simply meditating upon Jesus as the Son of God, and that all true joy in our lives finds its starting point here.  As I reflect on Jesus’ words to John the Baptist, I feel Him saying to me, “You might face hardship and persecution, imprisonment and death, but I will not change.  You have seen my light dawn into this world and into your life.  You have seen miracles, and you have experienced a change of heart.  Now, trust in me and rely upon me.  I am He, the Messiah, the ‘one that is to come’ and the one whose Kingdom will have no end.”

During this season of fasting, I pray that we can simply meditate upon the truth that Jesus is the Son of God.  May the Lord enable us to find our deepest sense of peace in nothing other than that truth, and may He minister to our souls in deep ways that cause us to fall before His throne with a heart of praise and gladness.

Maria Greshock
Ministry Fellow at Princeton