“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

A good example of this truth in action is the story of John the Baptist in prison. Jesus used the Word of God to rouse John’s faith—to get him out of doubt and unbelief. John was alone and despondent, so he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” He was beginning to doubt—even though he had baptised Jesus himself.

With his own mouth, he had declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”(It’s easy to get into doubt and unbelief when the pressure is on.) Jesus didn’t give John a direct answer. Instead, He responded by asking the disciples to report to John all they had “seen and heard.” He referred to the prophecies of Isaiah when He told the disciples, “Tell John the blind receive sight and the lame walk.

The lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” After the disciples walked away, He then turned to the crowd and heralded John the Baptist as the greatest of all Old Testament prophets. Why did Jesus do this? Why did He wait until John’s disciples were gone to say these great things about him? Wouldn’t it have encouraged John to hear that Jesus had announced that he was so great? Why did Jesus not give a direct answer?

Jesus knew that John was very familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah, and He was pointing him back to those scriptures. The faith John needed in order to banish his doubt would come from the Word of God. It may have appeared that Jesus was giving an inadequate reply to John, but He was actually ministering to John in the most powerful way possible.

The Word of God is magnified above the name of God and is more trustworthy than the audible voice of God out of heaven. Sometimes, when we are experiencing periods of doubt and discouragement, we pray for God to do something special to lift us out of our despair.

We need to remember how Jesus responded to John’s discouragement—He pointed him back to the WORD. We need to go to the Word ourselves and receive the greater blessing of walking by faith and not by sight.

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