Sunday Brunch – Why Didn’t Jesus Rescue John The Baptist?

October 9, 2011 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Why didn’t Jesus Rescue John The Baptist from prison?

When John the Baptist was in prison, I believe he wanted Jesus’s help. When Jesus failed to help John escape, John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the ONE (the true Messiah).

Then John The Baptist was beheaded.

His head was presented on a platter as a birthday gift to King Herrod’s wife’s daughter, who then presented the platter to her mother (the king’s wife-Herodias). Upon hearing this news, Jesus went away on a boat for some time alone. Apparently, Jesus was saddened by the death of John, and I’ve always wondered why Jesus didn’t release John from prison.

There are some Biblical questions that will probably remain unanswered until we get to heaven, but, I think Jesus felt He had more pressing things to do than rescuing John. Perhaps during those crucial moments when John was in prison, Jesus was called elsewhere to heal and save souls. There could be a number of reasons why things played out the way that they did, but, I’ve always wondered about this.

So, why do you think that Jesus refused to rescue John The Baptist from prison? Leave your responses in the comments. I’ve copied and pasted the scripture references below.

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~Cecelia Dowdy~

Matthew 11:1-6
1After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. 2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
Matthew 14:3-13
3Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet.
6On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much 7that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10and had John beheaded in the prison. 11His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. 13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.

96 Responses to Sunday Brunch – Why Didn’t Jesus Rescue John The Baptist?

  1. Bernard says:

    You are taking liberties with the passage. No where does it say that John wanted Jesus to rescue him. His questions may have revealed some of John’s doubts brought on by depression. After all in St John 1:34 John testified that Jesus was the One.

    • Rusty says:

      I’m no bible expert but, on the cross, did not Jesus ask if God had forsaken him? Maybe we are being taught that sometimes, in this world, we have to suffer our “fate” which is, of course, our cumulative life choices from free will. Geeze, I sure hope there is a heaven. (I struggle with this aspect of faith.)

      • Hi, Rusty

        There is a heaven, I can guarantee you that. Do you believe people die and have no souls? What a sad thought if this life, as we know it, is all that there is. I do believe that people have different concepts of heaven, though. Have you ever read the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn? I’ve never read the entire book, but, I’ve heard others say that Randy’s book shows a concept of heaven that is different than most.

    • the fairy says:

      I think that the beheading of John the Baptist was so sudden and unexpected that neither Jesus nor John himself considered it urgent at that time. It seemed John was reasonably safe in prison, since Herod did want to listen to him. Therefore a rescue was probably not necessary. If at all, John’s conversations with Herod may have led to better things if Salome did not turn to her mother Herodias.

    • Donna says:

      Well, I don’t believe anyone inchworm right mind prefers to be beheaded and “not” rescued especially from Jesus whom John preached about for so long.



  2. Thanks for commenting, Bernard.
    Just seemed like John wanted Jesus to rescue him. I know he said that Jesus was the One, he said that a few times, I believe (or something similiar). However, I figured his doubt may have been prompted by the fact that he was in prison, and there was no help forthcoming from Jesus to get him out of bondage. I never thought about depression being the reason why he questioned if Jesus was the ONE.

  3. JA M. says:

    I’m wondering about this right now, why Jesus didn’t rescue John. Instead of rescuing John, Jesus began his ministry and called his first disciples. It seemed like, now that John is gone, Jesus’s “time had come”.

    Mark 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

    I’m no theologian or historian. My thoughts are just based on these verses.

  4. Samuel says:

    Jesus came to release us from bondage. I think he meant spiritual bondage. John was freed from spiritual bondage already, so the physical according to Jesus did not matter. There were many he had to attend to other than John. Its sad though.

  5. Michael says:

    It is possible this incident was a warning to Christians, intending to inform us that God would not always save us from physical calamities.

    If we know this going in, we are less likely to turn from Jesus when we or a loved one is killed in an accident or contracts cancer. If God, or Jesus didn’t rescue John from prison what right have I to expect Him to save me from my afflictions?

    John worked long and diligently under harsh living conditions to spread the message. Compared to Him I have done very little.

    I see it as a lesson, almost as a prophetic story.

  6. jeffrey costa says:

    the bible as we know deals in types and shadows. i think that john was a type of christ and when his mission was complete he had to die like JC. plus remember our views on life and death are unhealthy as we know john was going to the father.

    • Cindy Nyeche says:

      That’s a good answer,John was waiting on Jesus. . ,he was human but loving God fearing his life ,we all want to be saved when in danger,Jesus saved his friend when he died, why not his cousin John

    • marvellous says:

      It was suppose to be fulfilled in thatway.the h
      Heaven new where he will end

    • marvellous says:

      It was suppose to be fulfilled in thatway.the h
      Heaven new where he will end . remember john was elijah. The word’s of Jezzebel when his profets were killed after they fail to bring fire from heaven. The reaction and words of Jezzebel ,” I will cut off your head as u did to my profets and that demon manifested in Hero’s wife to fill what was said when he was Elijah .

  7. Yohan says:

    To understand the answer for your Question , you need to first understand why GOD did not saved his only begotton son JESUS ?
    Same answer is for your Question , why Jesus did not saved St. John ?
    That is they both have some intention to come on the earth, instead they were sent to us with some purpose. And as they completed their task, they were called back. The way they were died was a lesson for us to remind our sins. If we are their follower we should always keep in mind the blood they shed for us.

    Hope this satisfy your thirst of curiousity.

    • Gladys Ibiyemi says:

      John the Baptist never asked Jesus for help, he never even prayed to God to be delivered from prison, the bible says ask it shall be granted unto you.Jesus never healed anyone who did not asked him, he often even ask them if they want to he healed.

  8. Thanks for your thought provoking response, Yohan. Please visit my other Biblical blog posts and leave a comment if you wish:

  9. Solomon says:

    John The Baptist task in the earth was to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus.He should not have commented/interfered in Herods life.Instead of doing what is required he was diverted.I think that is the reason He was not rescued.

  10. Hi, Solomon

    Herod was probably offended by John’s words, but, John was doing what he thought was best. Not sure if that’s why he was not rescued, but, gives us something to think about.

    • Cindy Nyeche says:

      As we know ,God way is .not like yourself or mine ,I always ask why ,but I’ll never find the human answer , why, we do not supposed to know ,we are only to follow his commandments to my understanding could there be more?

  11. Cindy Nyeche says:

    It was john’s time to die and to be present with the Lord

    • Hi, Cindy!

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for leaving that insightful comment. I think it may have been John’s time to die and to be present with the Lord. That’s a good answer.

  12. Dan says:

    Jesus gives the reason in verse 6 ” blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me. John’s witness in his willingness to die,spoke volumes about the one whom he proclaimed.God gives a blessing of some sort,to martyrs and those who dont renounce Jesus,in the face of persecution.

  13. Precious Damsel says:

    Bible did’nt tell us that john himself did ask jesus to rescue him,even if that has been written of him he whould have open his mouth and beg jesus to do something about the matter bcs bible said”ask it shall be given unto you”


    john 16:33 says “…… the world you will have tribulations, ……”.I think this is the reason jesus had to ignore this.He had to be faithful to what he was to preach next in the near-by future

  15. Sedgeley Penniken says:

    I was also curious about this, and did some reading up. I found a really inspiring passage in a book called ‘Conflict and Courage'(pg. 278.3) by Ellen G. White.It reads as follows: “Jesus did not interpose to deliver His servant. He knew that John would bear the test. Gladly would the Saviour have come to John, to brighten the dungeon gloom with His own presence.But He was not to place Himself in the hands of enemies and imperil His own mission. Gladly would He have delivered His faithful servant. But for the sake of thousands who in after years must pass from prison to death, John was to drink the cup of martyrdom. As the followers of Jesus should languish in lonely cells, or perish by the sword, the rack or the fagot,…what a stay to their hearts would be the thought that John the Baptist, to whose faithfulness Christ Himself had borne witness, had passed through with a similar experience! Satan was permitted to cut short the earthly life of God’s messenger; but that life which ‘is hid with Christ in God,’ the destroyer could not reach. Colossians 3:3.” Hope this helps. More of this can be read online at:
    God bless you all.

  16. jose says:

    Actually Herod didn’t want to kill John, but decided to save face in front of others.

  17. My understanding is that John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah. That was his mission. He was the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. He was roughly Jesus’ age. Jesus came to teach us, reveal God to us and then die when it was done. From the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” The word in the Greek is tetelestai. That’s the word that was stamped on a debt that was paid in full.

    And John’s work was done. He intoduced Jesus as the Messiah, he prepared the way. John was far better off when he died. The manner of death was swift and painless. John was instantly ushered into the presence of the Lord.

    Jesus could heal anything and even raise the dead, but he left John to his fate to bring him into heaven with no further suffering. John had done his work well, was approved by Jesus and was given the blessing to go to heaven.

  18. Thanks so much for your insightful response Pastor Dennis!

  19. Gwen Washington says:

    I believe that Johns work for God was complete, and that John himself had not just been the voice in the wilderness, but he had also been voicing his opinion of Herod and his lifestyle which also placed him in a dangerous political battle, which even though it may have been true, it may not have been God’s will…So, even though John may have thought he had more to do, God obviously didn’t agree.

  20. Hi, Gwen
    Thanks so much for responding on my blog. I guess it is possible that God felt that John’s work on earth had been completed.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I definitely agree to all said. But we should remember the bible clearly saids ” we should not be afraid of the one who kills the body and not soul but rather be conscious about the one who kills both.

  22. rev.bright says:

    I definitely agree to all said. But we should remember the bible clearly saids ” we should not be afraid of the one who kills the body and not soul but rather be conscious about the one who kills both.

  23. Thanks for providing your insight, Rev. Bright!

  24. Tony Johnston says:

    Clowns…No matter how you spin this incident, God (Jesus) was walking this planet less than six miles from ‘…the greatest man ever born of woman’ for 2 YEARS and he did nothing but withdraw when he heard of his arrest.

    Why? Because Jesus was just a man and he had no special powers. He could not rescue John no more than he could have kept himself from being arrested if he tried.

    Spin it all day long how it was John’s fate, his mission, his purpose, blah, blah, balh…

    While you are at it, justify God making a bet with Satan using a human (Job) as the pawn in the private wager.

    Time to move past these fairy tales and get a broader perspective of reality.

  25. Ms J Mcintosh says:

    John had already had a close connection with the father,that was y he was spreading the word to people who he was baptizing.He feared not for his life but his afterlife and he believed his work was done and the real messiah would b on the way. Blessed be.

  26. kenneth says:

    was john not the one who baptized JESUS?Did he not hear the voice from heaven when the spirit of God come in form of dove?my thinking is that every one is called to do samething on earth,John was called to prepare the way for the Lord and his work had finnished.

  27. mangole says:

    we all guessing and missing the original question. Why didn’t he help him? the man spent nearly a year in prison hoping JEsus would equally show opposition to the illegal marriage. it would appear Christians when faced with tough questions with regard to missing links in our religion we rush to ” it had to happen” scapegoat.

  28. Mike says:

    My question would be…why did Jesus have to be told about the death of John. Jesus would have known John’s fate and moment of death from the beginning because Jesus is Lord.

  29. Twesigye Ambrose says:

    The biggest Challenge that Christianity faces today is Lukewarmness! That why many people come to Christ not for eternal life but for earthly inheritance. Many end up living a fascinated life by focusing on earthy visible things. Yet the plan of God for us, the reward for us that trust in Jesus is eternal with him. If John the Baptist needed the physical help from Jesus or doubted Jesus, he would have denied him during the hour of trial. A mature Christian should not be confused again.Do not deny Jesus because he has not healed your cancer because the worldly are all vanity. Some Apostles like Peter even wished they could die earlier for eternal enjoyment in the promise with the bridegroom Jesus Christ!

  30. Twesigye Ambrose says:

    And Brother Mike, thank you for your question. Do you have children? Why do Children have to tell their Father that they need School Fees? Don’t parents always know this? And who tells Jesus had no knowledge of all that would happen? Just resist that unbelief in you that wants to block your eyes from the truth. Jesus is LORD and is and was all knowing.

  31. carolyne1449 says:

    This truly demonstrates that there are still people who care about what they post on the web. I really liked browsing the comments.

  32. Richard says:

    It appeared John and Jesus’ ministries were now running concurrently so John had to die and pave way for Jesus to avoid confusing the audience. You’ll recall how the Pharisees questioned Jesus why his disciples were not conducting frequent fasts like John’s disciples.

  33. Pastor Bill says:

    I see Jesus’ message encouraging John not to be offended as similar to Paul’s message about being faithful unto death and then receiving the crown of life.
    I minister to a number of elderly people, many of whom will have to go through a difficult time before God calls them home. It is a challenge not to be depressed or discouraged when you can no longer contribute to life as you used to. Growing old and losing physical and mental abilities is no picnic. I have a chance to bless their final days so that they are not offended by the path they have to endure. Jesus words can be used to keep us strong to the end.

  34. OBONG OBONG says:


  35. OBONG OBONG says:


  36. Minister Sanders says:

    I always wondered why Jesus didnt save John the Baptist now I understand why: John the Baptist had an assignment in preaching repentance , proclaiming the Kingdom and in also Baptizing Jesus. He was prophesied to prepare the way for the Messiah and he died doing what Christians are going to have to do real soon in this satanic ruled world and thats taking a stand for God……..

  37. curt9947 says:

    This post is just what I call a well thought out posting. Clear and to the point. I am going to certainly watch out for more posts like this.

  38. jina4267 says:

    Judging by the amount of opinions, this is definately an extremely engaging subject. Everytime I come back to this post there’s an interesting visitor post better than many of the earlier ones.

  39. Batsy Samboko says:

    think about the lost coin , the lost sheep, & the lost son ,. How she had to sweep the house, 100 sheep how he left the 99, not to mention the ring , fastened calf, warm welcome: . It may seem foolish for the shepherd to leave 99, sheep to go for 1. Jesus new that John will be safe even if he must die for the truth than the lost who would be in danger.

  40. delores says:

    I think John served his purpose

  41. Tim says:

    I also wonder why does he heal this person and not the next? Jesus answer to John was look what I am doing. There are some healed etc.
    We will experience his kingdom in part here and there. But when his kindgom comes in its fullness all captive will be released, spiritual and physical bondage. But until then we just have to understand that in this world we will have troubles. John had his troubles of prison and beheaded but he is now in heaven and he has no doubts.

  42. Derrick McDaniel says:

    Johns purpose had been served. John introduced the messiah to the people and baptized Jesus as it is written to fulfill Gods plan. For Jesus to rescue John would’ve been a different outcome in the mission of Christ. I believe that it was time for Jesus’ ministry to start and to avoid any confusion amongst the people of who was the Lamb of God, it was time for Johns to end.

    John had the power to cast out demons as he was blessed with the Holy Spirit while he was in his mothers womb. I belief the people back then would’ve been confused if John was set fee by Jesus and then you had two out there casting out demons, making the blind to see, healing people of diseases. Which so much confusion that may have come from the people because some may have thought john was the messiah and not Jesus Christ the true and only messiah.

    • Hi, Derrick

      Thanks for commenting. Would people have been confused back then if you have two casting out demons? Hmm? Not sure. I know there were some who confused John the Baptist, wondering if he was Jesus.

      There were others who cast out demons. Jesus gave some that power. I believe there were 70, or 72? I can’t recall the scripture, but, Jesus gave the power to some select others to cast out demons in His name.

      But, there were demons that were not able to be cast out my Jesus’s followers. There is a scripture where Jesus’s follower could not cast out the demon, and Jesus had to do it for some reason.

      So glad you stopped by. Please read the other Biblical blog entries if you wish!

      • Babatunde says:

        True, but at some point the pharisees were raising issues that John ‘disciples were fasting and Jesus’ s weren’t, before Jesus gave them a spine breaking answer. To buttress, the pharisees kept looking for ways to discredit the Lord with respect to John. John4:1. Saving John or not was Jesus’ prerogative. Another question :Did john perform any miracle other than baptism?

  43. Splendor Obong says:

    For me, i thing the reason is that, jesus knew that john was done with his work. he was sent to preach about the coming of christ. he was the one who baptise jesus, he even jump from his mother wormb what mary was conceive and went to greet Elizabeth her friend. the reason why he sent his disciple to ask jesus if he is the messiah sent, is that, he was afraid of he way he wanted to depart from the world, though he was human, in one way, one way, he was spirit. even jesus was scread about death, that’s why he went to the mountain to pray that night asking his father just one thing, he knew that was death, and he want he father to take away the death from him, but it should not be according to his wish, but the father.
    I can say that john was done with job. so jesus told him that the dump can talk, deaf can hear, that there’s no one ever done that before that he should knwo he is the one sent. that was how God design for him to die, as of jesus and the rest.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Now, I know you are asking why didn’t Jesus save John the Baptist? After all He was the Messiah and can save all, so why not John? John the Baptist was the last prophet who had one foot in the Old Testament. So, if John the Baptist lived on, then we could not receive the Holy Spirit to live in us because he was the last person to have the Holy Spirit come upon him and leave. So, Jesus did not save John the Baptist because He was holding us as a nation back. So what satan and Herod meant with that sword to John the Baptist head for evil, they released a nation like never before, A Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation! Hallelujah!

  45. Bobby Duncan says:

    John had the authority to save himself. Maybe John did not want to be released from prison.

  46. Isaac Manuel R says:

    Having heard the death of John, bible clearly tells us that Jesus felt sad as he withdrew himself to a solitary place. Even before that Jesus know very well that John was imprisoned. Bible didn’t say anywhere that Jesus or His disciples or John’s disciples have protested against the rulers for John’s imprisonment or his death at a later stage. Jesus simply stuck to His mission. Jesus didn’t fought against those who harmed John.. This is a perfect example of following what He preached..

    “…do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also… …love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven… “(Ref Mat 5:38-48)

  47. thanks for that post, you helped me a lot, because I was up to that same question.

  48. ben says:

    I believe the question on why Jesus did not rescue John should be approached from the viewpoint of remembering what Jesus said in Matthew 11 – blessed is he who is not offended in me.
    I believe it portrays a figure to show us if at any point we get into trouble and things keep turning from worse into worst, that our faith shall not be shaken and we shall not be OFFENDED.
    Remeber Dorcas, a good woman, but she feel sick, no body came to heal her, she even died, but God raised her again
    How else could we be encouraged, that even at the tough moments like John in the prison, we can still be sure, God has bigger plans for us

  49. Gladys Ibiyemi says:

    John the Baptist never asked Jesus for help while he was imprisoned,the bible says asked it shall be given,and that we should also pray about everything. Jesus never healed or helped anyone who never asked. before Jesus will heal anybody, he first asked, what do you want,or do you believe.John never prayed of asked to be delivered from the evil woman.

  50. Larrybank says:

    The ways of God will forever be a misery.The anyone wonders how it will have been,John the baptizer with is ministry & Jesus too on one side at same time?it wll have amont to amount to john running parallel ministry wt Jesus,.that is why He has(john) to go down! for the superior authority.people may have been confused who to follow John or Jesus.But God will not be an author of cinfussion,reason y John av to go down for the son of man ,the man of the hour.

  51. Noah Sherr says:

    I am working on a project in school right now on John the Baptist I didn’t understand why he had to die because if he didn’t die he could done a lot for the Glory of God, maybe God had reason for his death maybe if he was alive it would how God wanted the story of Christ to be

  52. Anonymous says:

    Beheading of John the Baptist and inaction of Jesus who is believed to have performed many miracles including feeding 5000 followers with 5 loaves of bread.How Jesus failed to foresee the execution of his cousin by Herod. Was there any rivalry between John the Baptist and Jesus as they differed on Baptism. When John baptised with water Jesus believed in baptising in the name of holy spirit eventhough he was baptised by John. Considering the climate prevailing in Jordan River in different seasons the one proposed by Jesus sounds good for all seasons. New Testament is unconvincing on some aspects including the mystery behind Mary Magdalene.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Personally I think compering John the apostle and the baptist’s relationship with Jesus,,, then I feel the apostle was more there for Jesus n vise versa, give that among the 12, the apostle John was in the cycle of Jesus’3 closest friends,…. But the baptist was more like a business partner of Christ,, N their relationship was done from a distance ………..I guess the lesson is for us to draw closer to God n not to doubt when we need answers that are not fortcoming

  54. David says:

    John fulfilled his mission on earth, which is to prepare for Jesus. His imprisonment and death must be good for him and his followers. It is God’s intention not to allow John to become one of the disciples of Jesus and let him die the way he died. I believe John understood God’s plan for him and obeyed God. Otherwise he would have tried to become one of the disciples of Jesus.

    He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

    Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

  55. David says:

    John fulfilled his mission on earth, which is to prepare for Jesus. His imprisonment and death must be good for him and his followers. It is God’s intention not to allow John to become one of the disciples of Jesus and let him die the way he died. I believe John understood God’s plan and obeyed. Otherwise he would have tried to become one of the disciples of Jesus.

    He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

    Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

  56. Kevin says:

    I think Jesus is a coward and a douchebag. Matt says that Jesus “withdrew” to Galilee after he found out Johnny was captured. Withdrew means ran away in military parlance. So to my point of being a coward, Evidence A. Remember, Jesus is a god, or at least has the powers of a god being his son and all. Jesus can bring people back from the dead, all he would have had to do is think about freeing Johnny and he would be free. So why not? John got his head cut off right? Kind of a douchebag thing to do if you ask me. John was all about JC, but JC couldn’t be bothered reattach his head, but he brings back to life Lazarus? Are you serious? Douchebag.

  57. Mabon says:

    Perhaps Jesus was behind the murder of John the Baptist.

  58. MELODY UZU says:

    In my research, i could say that most scriptural qoutes are very complicated.thats to say we can not understand beyond the measure of our faith. God have made that be. before the arrival of jesus christ, many christians lack the knowledge of THE supernatural manifest of the holy ghost. God Does Not Come Donw From HeaVen To Help US But Have Made His Power Avaliable For All To DisPLAY. that was what i see that apostle john lack. he was actually expecting the physical strenghtful king or saviour. though he understood that he was the saviour but was disappointed cos he seeked for the physical manifest. and that is how most of us are till date. we are still expecting jesus to come physically to fight for us.

  59. Babatunde says:

    John Mission finished the day he baptized Jesus. From that day Jesus ‘s mission got started. Saving John was needless, coz h’ d done his part. Remember Jesus didn’t come for those that were healthy (people who knew the faith),but for the sick.

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