Are You The One?

Matthew 11

Jesus and John the Baptist1After 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.”

7As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:
” ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’ 11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears, let him hear.

I’ve read these passages countless times in the past but today at a small mid-summer joint church service which our little church was involved in these verses literally exploded into my heart. It was a beautiful day out here in the countryside. Sometimes we take it for granted living out here that this is the way it is for everyone, but I know that its sure not when a person sits down and dwells on it. But today’s message, given by a local county chaplain who is a rarity amongst them, one who is one fire for Jesus Christ and not just a generic chaplain,  was a life changer of huge proportions!

The message was about doubt, about wavering faith. The message was about how a person can be on the mountain top with all the faith seemingly possible and then be brought down into the pit and the faith starts to shake. Now some religious folks figure a person has to maintain an air of perfect faith all the time and never complain or question, just keep putting on the show and making it look like everything is OK. Well, I don’t know about anyone else but sometimes things are not OK. Ol’ John was in prison for months for speaking out the truth against Herod. John had seen Jesus baptized,he had seen the Holy Spirit descend on Him. John knew that He was the Lamb of God. But John was now locked away for a long time and doubts started to creep in. Where was this new Kingdom,where was this new day?

Ever have times like that? I sure do, all the time. They creep in quietly, they creep in especially after being on the mountain top where a person figures it’ll never get bad again. But that’s when the hit comes. It happens to all Christians, the question is how do we deal with it. How did John deal with it? How did others in the Bible deal with it? The answer is that they came directly and asked God, are you Him? How did David deal with everything that happened so tragically in his life? The answer is he came and asked God, sometimes in anger, sometimes in frustration,but he always brought it to Him.

How do we deal with tragedy? Do we just try and put on our church act where we act like everything is OK? That’s just dishonesty. It ain’t OK, so why put on a show. The saints can’t help, or share when the show is being put on. When John had his disciples come to Jesus there wasn’t a rebuttal for unbelief. On the contrary Jesus gave John the Baptist some pretty good praise! Because John honestly questioned while being down in the pit.

This got me thinking today. A good day by all standards. Was at the small town joint church service. After that had some treats and coffee from a neighboring church. Then found a good spot, set out the lawn chairs and watched the annual parade for an hour. Came home and in an hour or so got together with some really close friends from church and went to the city 35 miles south east of here and ate and then went to a plant nursery where everything was bare bones price. My kinda deal. Both families each bought a cherry tree and we helped each other plant em at our respective places. Got home this evening did pasture checks and I was still dwelling on this message today. A life changer if I ever heard one.

Jesus knows what its like to be in the pit. He knows what its like to wonder where God is. He knows the darkest hour and the terrible feeling of not knowing where God is in all of it. Don’t believe me? Yes, He knows! Matthew 27:46

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus will never leave us, never! He knows what we go through, no matter what we go through. In our darkest hours we have the right to call out to Him! You know, that’s real faith! When all hell is breaking loose, to call out to God. A person is smashed down to nothing. What we perceive as faith is almost non existent. And in the misery and dispare we call out, we cry out, we yell out, or we can’t even find words and just groan. Is God ashamed of us as some religious folks would have us believe? The Biblical answer is no. That’s when He is closest!

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Tom,

    Here is another potential view of that passage …

    What had John always said, from the time he baptized Jesus? “He must increase; I must decrease.” Now John is in prison, and he still has his disciples coming to him, rather than going to Jesus to be His disciples. How could John continue to fulfill his ministry: [Christ] must increase; [John] must decrease? The answer: send his disciples to Jesus. Exactly what he had always been doing. Do it again. And have them ask the question: Are you the Messiah? And what was the response of Jesus? To enumerate the things that the Old Testament indicated would point to the presence of Messiah, happening before their very eyes. Imagine the impression this made on them. John had been preaching Christ, but these disciples had not yet turned to follow Christ. John was continuing to do all in his power to turn them to Christ. He couldn’t do much, locked up in prison. But he COULD send them to Jesus with the pertinent question they should be asking.

    You’ve already enumerated reasons why John should not be doubting. Imagine baptizing Jesus, and hearing the audible voice of God speak, seeing the Spirit descend as a dove.

    I could be totally wrong, but I don’t see John doubting here. I see him continuing to point people to Jesus, saying, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

    And Jesus, on the cross. Crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Was it only the despair of being forsaken? Look again. Jesus was not the first to have spoken these words. They were the first line of one of the songs in the Jewish prayer and songbook (the Psalms). Was he crying in despair, or was he getting the faithful ones at the foot of the cross started in reciting a Psalm that was being fulfilled before their very eyes. A Psalm that spoke of

    7. All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
    8. “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

    16. For dogs encompass me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me;
    they have pierced my hands and feet —
    17. I can count all my bones—
    they stare and gloat over me;
    18. they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

    As they continued to recite the Psalm he was leading, the vision turns …

    27. All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
    and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.

    And closes with the certainty that

    30b. it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
    31. they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that HE HAS DONE IT.

    And then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “IT IS DONE [FINISHED].”

    Certainly a matter of interpretation, but where others see doubt (in John) and agony of being forsaken (in Jesus), I see the very real possibility that John was pointing others to Jesus, and Jesus was pointing others to the certain Rock of Scripture which foretold the very day and experiences they were seeing, with an assertion that all that they was was somehow connected with the redemption of the world. That all the ends of the earth would turn to the LORD, and that he was accomplishing this by what he was enduring.

    No matter the right understanding of the passages in question, it is certainly true that God is with his suffering people, and in that time they are given unique opportunity to point fellow sufferers to their sustenance!


  2. Evening Jon!

    I respect your view and sure don’t say its wrong. But I’ll stick with my view. Either way I don’t think a person would be straying off the path into trouble. Thus I very seldom debate things like this and will only go into it a little, that plus I’m a two fingered typer 🙂

    I go by what Jesus said to John’s disciples, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see”. In my way of reading this is a message for John. My country theology is thus: God said it, I believe it and that settles it.

    You had me thinking most of the day though while raking and baling meadow hay and I thank you for that because I like to look it over beyond just my thinking on it.

    Thanks and God Bless!

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