Why did John call Jesus the Messiah and then later ask if he was the one?


Will you please help me understand these two confusing statements?

1) In John 1:29-31 we read that John pointing out to Jesus tells his disciples that He (Jesus) was the promised Messiah `The Lamb of God`.

2) But in Luke 7 - 19:20 we read that John while in prison sends his disciples to ask Jesus `Are you the one we are expecting or should we wait for another?`.

Thank you.


This is covered in the study The Gospel Accounts: A Chronological Harmony in the lesson "The Galilean Tour":

Johnís Doubts (Matthew 11:2-6; Luke 7:18-23)

††††††††††††Eventually news of Jesusí raising of the widowís son reached the ears of John, who was in prison. John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, ďAre you the Coming One, or do we look for another?Ē

††††††††††††It seems to be a strange question coming from the man who prepared the way for Christ and declared him to be the Messiah at his baptism. Yet, we must remember that John was a man, like all the other prophets before him. Other prophets had their moments of doubt. Moses had to be convinced to go and free the Israelites (Exodus 4:1-17). Gideon asked for two miracles before he lead Godís people to war (Judges 6:36-40). Elijah gave up after Jezebel threatened his life (I Kings 19:1-10). Jeremiah cursed the day he was born (Jeremiah 20:14-18). Remember that John has been in prison for quite a while now. Perhaps he thought, as did so many Jews, that Jesus would lead Israel in triumph against the Romans. Yet in all this time, Jesus hasnít declared himself, nor has there been any apparent move to re-establish the kingdom of Israel. And for John, there has been no rescue. Is it a wonder that John began to doubt himself?

††††††††††††Jesus didnít answer Johnís disciples directly. Instead during that very hour that they asked, he performed numerous miracles before the disciples of John. Afterwards he told them to return to John and tell them what they witnessed. His reply back to John echoes the words of Isaiah 35:5-6 and Isaiah 61:1, but the hidden message is found in the verse before. ďSay to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you"Ē (Isaiah 35:4). Jesus was telling John to take courage. Jesus warns John not to fall away because Jesus was not meeting Johnís personal expectations.