18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ ”
21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
24 After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written:
“ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’ l
28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) 
John the Baptist was having a crisis of faith. He had been faithful to his calling, proclaiming the coming Messiah and the need to repent. But the result had been imprisonment by Herod. Now John seems to be struggling with whether the Messiah he had proclaimed is the real one. Had it all been in vain? How could the result of his faithful service be imprisonment?
Jesus directs John to consider what He had been doing. He was fulfilling the prophetic vision of what the Messiah was to do. Jesus sought to assure John to look beyond his personal situation and consider the big picture of God’s redeeming work, which was unfolding in the life of Jesus.
Sometimes our work for the kingdom doesn’t bring about the results that we personally hope for. Sometimes faithfulness seems to result in rejection. Kindness is met with anger. Attempts at reconciliation sometimes lead to further separation. The Gospel itself met with indifference or ridicule. Has my discipleship been in vain? Has it made any difference? What is it for if this is the result?
Jesus would direct us to Himself, as He did with John. The work of the kingdom goes forward, even though at times it is hard to see it in our own lives. The sobering fact is that the metaphor He uses for following Him is taking up a cross. We follow the executed Messiah, dragging our own instruments of execution with us.
Our Christian hope doesn’t rise or fall on the events of our lives, or on our personal experience of kingdom victory. But that victory is assured. As Christ rose from the dead, utterly conquering and transforming death, He will be at work in all of our temporary setbacks as well, transforming and resurrecting them for His Kingdom.
So my prayer today is for faith and hope that I may not stumble when we feel the weight of the crosses I carry.
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
To subscribe to Abide Daily Devotion e-mail please click here