You know the type.
People who will never be pleased no matter what you say or do. You go left and they complain you should’ve gone right. You go right, but they gripe about how a smarter person would’ve gone left. There is no happy place for them. Life is one complaint after another.
Here’s today’s word… Doubt
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Have you ever felt unsure of yourself or your situation? I have. Sometimes it’s disconcerting to feel unsure when everyone else around you seems confident and certain. It’s comforting to see that even a spiritual giant like John the Baptist can face uncertainty. John was uncertain about Jesus’ identity. Um, say what?!? Remember—John was the one who baptized Jesus! But put yourself in John’s sandals—after baptizing Jesus, John probably expected Jesus to come in power, drive out the Romans, and take charge as the true king of Israel. It was the expectation of all of the Jews that the Messiah would be this kind of savior. The crowds, the disciples, and even John didn’t expect this Messiah—one who came to save people eternally, not just politically.
Because John is unsure, he simply asks, “Are you the one, or should we keep looking?” And Jesus answers with power. The blind were given sight. The lame were walking. The deaf could hear. Jesus’ answer is basically the same answer God gave Moses from a burning bush—a resounding, “I AM.” There are many in Christian circles who fight over the idea of doubt and questioning. Some believe it is okay to express questions and uncertainty. Others feel that it is flat-out wrong to question and doubt. But there should be another way. A friend of mine once pointed out that every time someone in the Bible expresses doubt, the doubt moves to faith after God responds. The same is true here with John the Baptist. He is not condemned for questioning and expressing concerns about the Messiah. In fact, Jesus commends John!
When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
John expressed concern and doubt, and Jesus says there is none greater. Not bad, getting a compliment from the Messiah! But John came with a different purpose and function than Jesus. John came to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus affirms that he IS the Messiah. But people just won’t be pleased.
“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
John did it that way and you complained. I did it this way and you complain. But in the end you’ll see. That the way it is with kids and their parents, right? It reminds me of the Mark Twain quip:
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
Eventually kids come to recognize the wisdom of their parents. And time will show that Jesus is who and what he claims to be. Time will show that Jesus IS the Messiah. And with him comes the kingdom of God—here and now, breaking through to earth.
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs. Our first song is called Here and Now. It’s a driving anthem with a message about God’s kingdom coming to earth:
Let your mercy rise
Let your hope resound
Let your love in our hearts be found
Let your grace run free
Let your name bring peace Heaven come in the here and now!
As you listen, ask yourself, “What does it mean for heaven to break into the here and now? Where do I see God’s kingdom my life?” Let’s worship…
Our second song this morning talks about the need for faith that is bigger than us. The song is called Give Me Faith and says:
I need you to open my eyes
And see that you’re shaping my life All I am,
I surrender Give me faith
How have I expressed doubt and concern to God? Have I listened for his answer?
Have I confessed my own small faith and asked for greater faith?
MAKING IT REAL
This week, examine the ways and areas of your life where you might lack faith (or have weak faith). Pray that God would expand and increase your faith!
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