From Heaven With Love


Chapter 22—The Imprisonment and Death of John

This chapter is based on Matthew 11:1-11; 14:1-11; Mark 6:17-28; Luke 7:19-28.

John the Baptist had been first in heralding Christ's kingdom, and he was first also in suffering. From the free air of the wilderness, he was now shut in by the walls of a dungeon, a prisoner in the fortress of Herod Antipas. Herod himself had listened to the Baptist and trembled under the call to repentance. “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy.” John denounced his iniquitous alliance with Herodias, his brother's wife. For a time Herod feebly sought to break the chain of lust that bound him; but Herodias fastened him more firmly in her toils and found revenge on the Baptist by inducing Herod to cast him into prison. HLv 137.1

The gloom and inaction of his prison life weighed heavily on John. As week after week passed, bringing no change, despondency and doubt crept over him. His disciples brought him tidings of the works of Jesus and how the people were flocking to Him. But why, if this new teacher was the Messiah, did He do nothing to effect the release of John? Doubts which otherwise would never have arisen were suggested to John. Satan rejoiced to see how the words of these disciples bruised the soul of the Lord's messenger. How often the friends of a good man prove to be his most dangerous enemies! HLv 137.2

John the Baptist expected Jesus to take the throne of David; and as time passed, and the Saviour made no claim to kingly authority, John became perplexed. He had looked for the high places of human pride and power to be cast down. The Messiah would thoroughly purge His floor, gather the wheat into His garner, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. See Isaiah 40; Matthew 3. Like Elijah, he looked for the Lord to reveal Himself as a God who would answer by fire. HLv 137.3

The Baptist had stood as a fearless reprover of iniquity in high places and low. He had dared to face king Herod with the plain rebuke of sin. And now from his dungeon he watched for the Lion of the tribe of Judah to cast down the pride of the oppressor and to deliver the poor. But Jesus seemed to content Himself with healing and teaching the people. He was eating at the tables of the publicans, while every day the Roman yoke rested more heavily on Israel, while King Herod and his vile paramour worked their will, and the cries of the poor and suffering went up to heaven. HLv 138.1