News of the amazing things that Jesus was doing was carried to the prison cell where John the Baptist was being held. John would have heard that the size of the crowds that gathered to hear Jesus teach were large. Yet, there was no talk of judgment of the unfaithful Jews or war with the Gentiles. There was no organizing of a rebellion against the religious system in Jerusalem. No one was being encouraged to stockpile weapons and there was no attempt to gain control of a city or a province. John wondered in his prison cell if possibly Jesus might just be another forerunner sent by God to prepare the people for the actual Messiah. John had his preconceived ideas of what the Messiah would say and what he would do when he took his place on history's stage. John might
have imagined how the land of Israel would be transformed and how Jewish society would have responded when the Messiah appeared.
It was clear that Jesus was not doing whatever John had anticipated the Messiah would do.
So, John sent men to question Jesus and to find out if possibly John might need to adjust his message and start telling people to keep looking for the Messiah, since Jesus was clearly
not fulfilling the expectations. The accepted theological interpretations of scripture concerning the Messiah led John and many others to question Jesus' claims to be the promised Messiah.
John probably thought at the least the Messiah would deliver his messenger (John the Baptists) from Herod’s prison. But, instead Jesus was entertaining and performing for large crowds up in Herod Antipas’ Galilee while John the Baptist sat in Herod Antipas’ prison in the Machaerus fortress in Perea on the east side of the Dead Sea.
Remember John the Baptist’s words prophesying a very near judgment when the Messiah appeared:
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?...Even not the axe is laid to the root of the trees…he who is coming after me is mightier than I…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor...the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire!”
- Matthew 3:7-12
Jesus sends this message back to John:
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
– Luke 7:22-23
Jesus was probably not the type of Messiah John was expecting. Jesus simply told John:
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me!”