Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. 2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” John made this statement partly because he was isolated.
Isolation is one reason behind the increase in crime, domestic violence, suicide and mental health illnesses during COVID 19. We all have been affected by the isolation due to this Pandemic, so we have some insights into what may have happened and see some parallels in our situation that coincide with John’s experiences when was isolated in Herod’s prison.
Isolation breeds doubt. In other words, it can destroy faith. John was isolated, and He began to doubt who Jesus was. Our text reads, that “when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” John was quickly losing his faith. This was the same John who Isaiah and Malachi prophesied about that would become the forerunner of the Messiah. This was the same John that God dispatched an angel to tell his father that his elderly wife, Elizabeth would have a son and that they should call him John. This was the same John who as a baby, leaped in his mother’s pregnant belly when her cousin Mary the mother of Jesus went to visit her. This was the same John who when he grew up, became known as John the Baptist. This was the same John, that “the word of God came unto in the wilderness preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. This was the same John of whom Jesus said, “that among those who are born on the earth, there has never arisen a greater man than John the Baptist.” This was the same John that baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and heard the voice of God say, “This is my beloved Son in whom, I am well pleased,” and saw the heavens opened and the Spirit of God in the form of a dove come down upon Jesus. This is the same John that announced to the people that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God and they should follow Jesus. This was the same John that commanded the Scribes and Pharisees to repent for their sins. This was the same John that even rebuked King Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee telling him repeatedly that it was wrong, unlawful, and sinful to have Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, who was actually his niece, as well, rebuking Herod for adultery and incest. This was the same John that had the respect and honor of the people of Galilee. This was the same John. But that was then, and this is now. Now he is arrested by Herod for speaking out. Now he is in Herod’s prison. Now Herodias, the adulterous, incestuous wife of Herod, named Herodias is pressuring her incestuous, adulterous husband, named Herod to execute John. This is the same John, now. Now he is in a cold prison dungeon. Now, he cannot see daylight anymore. Now, he has lost track of time and lost track of the days. Now, he does not have the clean fresh water of the Jordan River to drink and to wash himself. Now he does not get his chosen foods: locusts and wild honey. Now, he can’t sleep comfortably under the open skies or any place of his choosing. Now he is afraid. Now he is alone. Now, he is isolated, and Jesus’ disciples went to visit him and he asked them to ask Jesus, the shattering question of our text “Are You the Coming One, or should we look for another?”
You see, John was in prison, and it was while he was in prison he became isolated and began to question what he had believed. Isolation is very dangerous. “According to the American Psychological Association, Staff writer Kelis Scott in an article titled, “Walls around your mind,” isolation can … cause “depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity at every stage of life.”
An April 2020 article by Professional Development Resources titled, “The Psychological Effects of Social Isolation,” studying COVID 19 quarantine, cited studies that argued Social Isolation causes Increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar others, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli. In another study they cited they said that social isolation could be linked to increased inflammation in the body and increased risk of poorer health. They also discovered that Social Isolation is a “Silent Killer” These researchers found that when people are able to develop and maintain more interpersonal connections – remotely or otherwise – the effects of social isolation were not nearly as powerful. In other words, Isolation is dangerous, so:
End isolation by restoring fellowship with others.
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a comprehensive invasion into the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces responded and are up to today resisting this aggression. Vladimir Putin the Russian President had thought he would easily conquer Ukraine and topple its Government, but one thing he miscalculated was the fact that the people of the Ukraine would not be alone. Great suffering is taking place in Ukraine now, but if they were alone and isolated, their suffering would be greater. Instead of leaving them to deal with Russia alone, the whole world has stepped forward in support of Ukraine.
Fellowship is saving Ukraine. Tell Russia what God told Moses in Deuteronomy 32:30, “one man will chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight.”
King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
The Bible uses the number two 1433 times.
In Numbers 6:10 The Jews were told to bring two turtles, or two young pigeons to the temple on the eighth day following a child’s birth.
In Luke 10:1 Jesus sent out the disciples two by two
Revelation 11:4 the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before God ... Isolation means being alone.
Isolation is characterized by: disintegration, independence, separation, solitude, segregation, detachment, disconnection, insularity,
Fellowship is about: alliance, association, community, companionship, connection, corporation, familiarity, federation, fraternity, sorority, friendship, participation, partnership, society, union
Isolation means: closing off, feeling disliked, feeling alone, being set apart from others, withdrawal, opposition,
Fellowship is about: organization, membership, continuity, contact, amalgamation, accessibility, teamwork, incorporation, coalition, fusion, collaboration, co-operation, integration, affiliation, cohesiveness.
Isolation keeps us away from one another Fellowship brings us nearer to each other.
Isolation hurts us. Fellowship heals us.
Isolation destroys us. Fellowship restores us.
Isolation breaks us down. Fellowship build us up.
Isolation blinds us. Fellowship opens our eyes.
Isolation shuts us up. Fellowship shows us up.
Isolation rips us apart. Fellowship binds us together.
Psalm 133:1-3 says it like this:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
I know the COVID 19 Pandemic challenged us, and we had to adjust to a new way of living but, for the most part the virus is under control, and we are allowed to congregate with limited restrictions again. Thank God for Zoom and social media, YouTube etc., but it is time to get back together again and end Isolation.
Worshiping on Zoom or Facebook is not the same as worshiping in Church, in the house of God. Cyber worship is too loose and easily interrupted. People are doing the dishes and singing, eating and worshiping, using the toilet and saying hallelujah, cooking, walking around, taking a shower, playing with their children and doing other things too wonderful for me to mention and say they are in church. Get back to the house of God. It is time to invoke David again and sound the trumpet proclaiming: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1-4).
It is time to invoke Paul and declare: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, … “ 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
I hear the writer to the Hebrews saying, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25.
Finally, David said it best when encouraged worship in the house of the Lord in Psalm 150, saying:
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
But even greater than just coming into the house of God is when you come open up your heart to Jesus if you are not in the right relationship with God. He wants to be your companion, your friend, your brother, your protector. He wants to be in fellowship with you.
Delight in Fellowship and avoid the Dangers of Isolation.