I can think of 2 possible explanations for John the baptist’s question:
- He wanted his disciples to leave off following himself and follow Jesus, so he sent them to Jesus to see him for themselves the great things Jesus was doing.
- John had been imprisoned for some time by this stage and perhaps he was beginning to doubt his understanding that Jesus was the Messiah.
I think the 2nd explanation is more likely. I think John meant that he wanted assurance that Jesus was the Christ, as John himself had earlier proclaimed. John 3:28
You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
Jesus said to John’s disciples in Matthew 11:4-6:
And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: (5) the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (6) And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
I feel the fact that Jesus said “Go and tell John”, is an indication that the focus is on John rather than the disciples of John, giving weight to the idea that John’s faith needed strengthening.
Some possible reasons for the possible turmoil John was experiencing on the subject of Jesus being the Christ:
- A lengthy incaceration in prison could encourage depression.
- Perhaps events relating to Jesus and the role of Messiah were not happening the way John thought they would, leading to doubt. For example:
- John hadn’t seen or heard of Jesus baptising “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” as John prophesied he would. (Luke 3:16)
- He hadn’t seen or heard of Jesus burning “the chaff with unquenchable fire” as John also prophesied Jesus would. (Luke 3:17)
- John may not have clearly understood “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke 3:5-6
One is reminded of the prophet Elijah, a prophet who also faced the ire of the wife of the king, just like Johnt did. Elijah became very depressed and asked God to take his life. 1 Kings 19:2-4:
Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” (3) Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (4) But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
This incident in Elijah’s life, shows that even prophets of God can become depressed and have their faith shaken.
The questioner also asked:
Was John asking Jesus “Does God still agree, and art thou he shat should come to hell also, for our release, “Am I your forerunner in Hell (Grave) also”, or Look we for another (Is God going to send someone else, should God do something else at Calvary, and you don’t die and get to hell or the grave where we are?
I don’t believe John was asking Jesus this question. I believe it is likely that John was wondering if he had misunderstood that Jesus was the Christ. Jesus was able to reassure him on this point with the miracles he did. Once again, see Matthew 11:4-6.