So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. (Acts 16:24-25)
As the word about Jesus spreads all over Judea, some of John the Baptist’s disciples visit him in prison and tell him what’s going on. When he hears about all the miraculous things Jesus is doing and sees his own suffering in prison, John becomes confused, and sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He really is the Promised One, or if he had been mistaken. When Jesus hears John’s plea, He tells his messengers to go back and report to him all the amazing things they’d seen Jesus do: healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and preaching the Kingdom of God to the poor. After explaining to the crowd around him how important John and his ministry are, He says that though they’re rejected by the religious leaders, their teaching will be proven to be true by those who live it out.
What John felt in prison is something we as believers are all prone to experience as we live for Christ in the world. I don’t believe John, the man who baptized Jesus and witnessed the Holy Spirit descending on Him while the Father Himself spoke from Heaven, doubted that He was the Messiah. What John experienced was the pain and confusion of his circumstances not lining up with what he knew about his Lord. He knew Jesus was the promised Christ, and He was doing the miracles that pointed to this, but why wasn’t He freeing him from his unjust imprisonment? Why was the One who was expected to proclaim freedom and redemption for the captives letting His messenger rot in jail? How Jesus responds to John’s confusion says a lot for us today: Jesus encouraged John to have faith in the midst of his imprisonment and suffering by reminding him of the undeniable proof of who He was!
When our identity is rooted in being citizens of the Kingdom, and we’re firm in Jesus Christ, our Foundation, we can be like Paul and Silas when they were severely beaten and thrown in prison, praying and worshipping God. Or like Peter, who witnessed as his fellow apostle James was beheaded and was thrown in jail to share his fate the following day, yet was so sound asleep that an angel had to hit him in the side to wake him up! They knew that even in suffering and hard times, their Father was who He said He was. He knew their needs, He loved and cared about them, and He had a plan for them. Rather than succumbing to confusion, worry, and doubt, we can have joy, peace, and faith to keep seeking the Kingdom first, trusting that our Father knows what we need before we ask Him, and will work it out for our good!
- Whether it’s a money deficit, a sin addiction, uncertainty for the future, persecution, or any other storm that may tempt us to give in to doubt our God, when we find our foundation and source of identity in Christ and belonging to His Kingdom, we trust our Father to meet our every need and praise Him! When you find yourself in the prison cell of your circumstances in this world, are you gonna be like John and question Jesus, or be like the apostles and praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness?
Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who made us, not we ourselves; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. (Psalm 100:3-4)