“I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” ~John1.34
As John the Baptist began his ministry, he didn’t know who he was looking for, but he knew God sent him to proclaim the coming Messiah (John 1.6-8, 23). Imagine John seeing Jesus coming, then seeing the Spirit descend, fulfilling the words that had been spoken to him. In that one moment, John knew and his uncertainty became recognition. (John 1.29-34)
Later, after Herod arrested John and held him in prison, John began to have doubts. In spite of his initial recognition, John now wondered if Jesus really was the Messiah. Perhaps Jesus was not the Messiah. Perhaps both John and Israel should still be looking forward to the coming of the Promised One.
Jesus’ response is interesting. He does not use the question as an opportunity to boast. He doesn’t even directly answer the question. Instead, Jesus points to the evidence. He says,
“Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see 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.” ~ Matthew 11.4-5
People of Jesus’ time would have recognized this as an allusion to Isaiah 35.5-6, in which Isaiah wrote what would happen when God came. If effect, Jesus was saying, “If you don’t recognize me, recognize the evidence and draw your own conclusion.”
God wants each of us to experience a similar turn toward recognition. Whatever our initial attitude towards Jesus – indifference, ignorance, uncertainty, hatred, apathy, intolerance, denial, rejection – God longs for it to become recognition. He desperately wants each of us to recognize Jesus is who He says He is; and to see Him as God’s only Son who came in human form to live, die, and rise. That recognition allows us to do the same: rise from our sin-imposed death and be restored in our relationship with the Father.
God knows we will have moments of uncertainty as we walk with Him. The uncertainty might come when perhaps we are disillusioned by the ways of the world, lose sight of God in the midst of our troubles or are tempted by sin. Whatever the cause, God invites us to look and see what He is doing. He beckons us to allow the evidence to bolster our faith and once again rest in recognition of the saving power, love and grace of the Messiah.