John the Baptist’s Confusion

Of all the things for the greatest prophet to be confused about, John is confused about the identity of the Messiah. He is confused about Christ. Certainly, while in prison, John received reports about what Jesus was saying and doing. Some of it seemed right – the healing and the miracles. But lots of it was just plain wrong. Going to parties with drunkards, tax collectors and prostitutes – that was not something the Messiah was supposed to do. Turning father against son and mother against daughter didn’t sound right either. Wasn’t the Messiah supposed to bring peace, love, and unity? And what’s all this talk about paying taxes to Caesar and blessing those who persecute us? Wasn’t the Messiah supposed to throw off Roman rule and give Israel her liberty?

John’s Doubt

Where were the armies? Where was the attack on Caesarea? What about the winnowing fan, the axe laid at the foot of the tree, and the fire from heaven as John expected? In Isaiah 40:23-24 it says that the Messiah will “bring the princes to nothing. He makes the judges of earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, when He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.” How come that wasn’t happening?

John begins to wonder, as he wastes away in prison, that maybe Jesus is not the Messiah. Maybe Jesus is not who John thought. There had been false Messiah’s before. Could it be that Jesus was a false Messiah? John calls two disciples and asks them to go ask Jesus if He is the promised one, or if they should look for someone else. John refers to the Messiah as The Coming One.

Challenge of our Faith

Do you ever have uncertainty and doubt about Jesus? Ever wonder if He really is who He says He is? Do you ever have questions about something He said, or did? Do you ever wonder if He is working on your behalf? If so, you’re in good company. John the Baptist is right there with you. That’s comforting to know that even someone like John had doubts and fears and misunderstandings. If you have ever voiced your doubts or fears to other Christians, very likely you were told that Christians don’t doubt, that true Christians don’t fear, that true Christians don’t question God’s Word or God’s ways.

But John doubts just like we doubt. But see how John handles his doubt. What do we do when we doubt? When we doubt, we stop reading our Bibles. We stop praying. We stop spending time with other Christians. Not John. When he begins to doubt, when his faith begins to waver, he reaches out to Jesus for answers.

[Readings: IS 45:6C-8, 18, 21C-25; LK 7:18B-23]

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka, PhD., BCC., ACPE Certified Educator Candidate, is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Nigeria, and a Board-Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). He is a retreat preacher who loves his faith. As a sociologist, he cherishes and operates from the vertical and horizontal relationships with God and neighbor. He takes Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer for peace “Lord make me an Instrument of Peace,” as his ministry mission statement. He is a care provider who meets human needs without discrimination. He has been actively involved in the pastoral ministry in parishes in Nigeria and in the US. Previously, he was an adjunct lecturer at Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary Umuahia and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Nigeria. Currently, he is a Certified Educator Candidate with the Department of Chaplaincy Services and Education, University of California Health, Davis, Sacramento.


  1. Jerry+DEMELO+Jr on December 14, 2022 at 2:34 pm

    Very interesting insight and reflection. Had never contemplated it like you did.

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