"The Cross and the Crown"
The same John the Baptist who leaped for joy in his mother's womb when first encountering the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, suffered a significant lapse of faith later in life.
"And it came to pass when Elizabeth heard the salvation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb… And when John heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said unto Him, Art He that should come, or do we look for another?" (Luke 1:41; Matthew 11:3).
Like all the Jews of his day, John anticipated the Savior's second advent rather than His first. The Old Testament declares both, but to a people always under siege by their enemies, it is not surprising the Jews would have focused on the King coming in power rather than the Lamb arriving in humility. Certainly John never expected to end up in prison because of the Christ he heralded. Perhaps he should have been more aware, particularly since the Lord had once asked John to do what seemed completely inappropriate to the Baptist:
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan, to be baptized of him. "But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him" (Matthew 3:13-15).
As in the days of John, our Lord's working in our lives often leads to baffling baptisms and perplexing prisons rather than palaces of power. God's way in Christ confused John on at least two occasions. Ultimately, it led to his beheading (Matthew 14:10). Indeed, joy in the womb culminated with martyrdom in the prison, a seemingly strange way indeed for he of whom the Lord Jesus declared, "Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist" (Matthew 11:11). Like his Lord, John's greatness resulted in suffering and death rather than exaltation. The same often takes place in our lives, whether figuratively in bearing our crosses, or sometimes even literally in martyrdom.
Like his Lord, John will ultimately triumph. He now knows better than we do the necessity of the first advent, wherein the Lord Jesus came to redeem hearts rather than rescue a nation. This required the cross and a crown - of thorns rather than jewels. The day will come when the power of the second advent will be revealed to all as He rescues Israel and fulfills His earthly purposes. "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him" (Jude 1:14-15). John the Baptist will be among that company, as will all who have suffered with the Savior. We do well to anticipate that blessed Day, but also to realize we remain in the dispensation when God often veils His power in order to reveal the grace of His salvation to hearts. Leaps in the womb sometimes lead to lying headless in tombs for God's trusting sons and daughters in Christ. This is triumph nevertheless, the victory of the cross that must always precede the Crown…
"Before honor is humility."
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any tribulation by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
(II Corinthians 1:3-4)