Powerful Moments

Today, let’s take a moment to reflect on John the Baptist and the life he lived in faith. Before being put into prison, John the Baptist preached in the wilderness, make straight the highway of God. Once he is imprisoned John’s disciples will one day go ask Jesus some questions to help John who is doubting and struggling in his faith as we are all prone to do on occasion. When they seem satisfied seeing and hearing they leave and return to John. Then Jesus asks the crowds three questions. #1—What kind of man did they go into the wilderness to see? Matthew 11:7~As they went away, 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? (ESV) Jesus was making a connection here that a reed like a person who was shaken by the wind was an individual who was without moral fiber. They were easily swayed. A person who vacillates. James 1:8~he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NKJ)  Obviously, John was anything but that. 

The second question Jesus asks #2—Were you looking for a soft clothed man? Matthew 11:8~What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. (ESV) Jesus says I am a man of the people. I’m not self-indulgent, materialistic, rather I’m rugged like John. Remember his attire and lifestyle described in Matthew 3:4~ John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. (NIV) I think I actually saw that episode on what not to wear. What? I watch TV with my wife, as any good husband should. How else would you have known what frumpy means? John’s life, like Habakkuk, Ezekiel and many of the prophets, was a visual protest against the materialism and self-indulgence of the corrupt Pharisees and Jewish leaders of his day. 

The third question: #3—What have you seen? Matthew 11:9~What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (ESV) John’s disciples did consider him to be a prophet of God Matthew 21:26~But if we say, Of human origin–we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet. (NIV) Jesus declares John the Baptist is more than a prophet as He quotes Malachi 3:1~I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the LORD Almighty. (NIV) (Matthew 11:10) John the Baptist is the forerunner who heralds the Way—Messiah—Jesus Christ. Can you think of a more glorious honor than to speak thus saith the Lord?

I bet you have plenty of questions…Questions about the past, present or future, like a sea of why who, how, that will roll onto the shore of your mind. And this is what I want you to remember, God called you to speak to others the glorious news of Jesus Christ. When we take an active role in sharing the Gospel, we have an easier time hearing and seeing all that God is doing. This brings encouragement into our lives and shifts our focus off of ourselves and back on to the King and His Kingdom. Take the opportunity before you today, share your faith.

Have A Question?

Have you ever asked God some tough questions? Perhaps you are more like John than you first imagined. When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, he saw the heavens open and heard the voice of God declaring Jesus to be His Son Matthew 3:13-17~Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.” (NIV) 

However, in prison, John gets depressed, like we all have or can begin to have questions that dog at our feet with doubt. Doubting because Jesus Christ isn’t quite fitting into John’s idea of what the Messiah would be. Like all Jewish people, John anticipated a Messiah who would come as a great king, like David, to free Israel from foreign domination. Maybe you thought salvation would annihilate our woes and relieve your worries as it Prozac’ed you with peace. 

Luke tells us John’s disciples watch Jesus in Luke 7:21~At that very time, Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. (NIV). Then, Jesus tells John’s disciples to report to John what they have heard and seen. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are healed, the deaf hears, the dead are raised to life, and the good news is preached to the poor (11:4-5). That’s enough right, a testimony in the life of another when you are in need yourself? Jesus is referring to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies which only the Messiah can fulfill (Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1). Then our Lord says in Matthew 11:6~And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. (ESV) Don’t let feelings wreck your relationship with God.

This means anyone, including John, who is not offended when they have doubts and don’t understand what the Messiah allows, will be blessed. There are some things the Lord allows, like John’s imprisonment and later beheading, that we do not yet understand. But, we must still trust in the Lord if we are to be blessed. We ought to make this one of our favorite stories about Jesus Christ because He says tells the crowd in Matthew 11:11~Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet, the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (ESV) You know what that means, right? It means Jesus understands our doubts. 

He understands when we get down and depressed and even question our faith. Isn’t that just the best news? To know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ understands when we get discouraged and pray like Habakkuk. Habakkuk 1:2~How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? (NIV) Now Habakkuk isn’t the first person to be unhappy with God. He like so many others has doubts, Lord you said a slut, for marriage. Ezekiel—let’s get a shave, and stack up some dung. (Ezekiel 4-5) Hear me, God understands doubts, discouragement, depression, and even our anger when life is tough. 

When we have doubts, we must be reminded of what we See. What have you witnessed Jesus do in your life? Let that, cultivate your faith. What have you heard others tell you about God, how He moved and worked and brought about a glorious miracle in their lives. Let those things build up your most holy faith. Because Jesus Understands how doubts can creep in. Take time today to give the Lord your doubts, worries, concerns as you accept Him at His word.

Jesus understands

Has anything ever happened in your life or in the life of a loved one that caused you to doubt your faith in Jesus? Our pericope today is here to help serve as a resource in those trying and difficult times. When Jesus finishes training His disciples, He departs to teach and preach Matthew 11:1~When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (ESV) Over the next two chapters (11-12), Matthew records various responses to Jesus and His message. The first response recorded is doubt. This passage reveals what we should do when we have doubts. This week, we want to consider: What do you See and Hear?

A great place to begin is by knowing that Jesus Understands. Allow me to set the stage: Herod Antipas seduces Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. No, they were not from L.A. Lower Alabama or for the transfers or even West Virginia. They were Samaritans. After Herod divorces his own wife, he marries Herodias, his half-brother’s wife. As we approach the holidays, this would qualify for one of those weird family gatherings filled with all the tension some of you will face. When JB (John the Baptist) learns of Herod’s sexual immorality, he can’t pass up a little clothesline preaching. As he publicly preaches against this senseless wife stealing-swapping. Which you can imagine would chap old Herod’s hide, who then has the herald John Baptist arrested. 

Matthew 4:12~ When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. (NIV) All Herod can do at this point is to make life uncomfortable for JB, and so he imprisons John. If you are asking, why not silence the voice, John? Listen to Matthew 14:5~And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. (ESV) Today, I want us to take note that even the bold, like John the Baptist, can have doubts about Jesus Christ. While in prison, John hears the things Christ Jesus is doing. Remember prison is doubly difficult for John, who is a rugged outdoorsman. And while we have navigated the discourse of 7 chapters, John has been confined into lock-up, likely just a small cube of space or a dark and dirty dungeon void of the expanse of the sky has probably sent him into a deep depression. 

Therefore, John sends two of his disciples to ask Matthew 11:2~Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples (ESV) John enquiring minds want to know, what is on your mind? Matthew 11:3~ (ESV) In other words, are you really the Messiah? John grew up hearing the story and may have even witnessed things. John knows what the Lord has told him, it’s why he is called the herald of Christ. John, buddy what is on your heart? John said, If You really are Messiah, why don’t You get me out of jail? 

If you have walked out your faith for any length of time, you have probably been in a situation or three that made you ask God, why have you not fixed this thing in my life, family, career. I want to assure you today that the Lord has remembered you. Upon a quick search of the scripture, you will see He remembered Noah, Hannah, Rachel, Sarah, His covenant. God takes each of us through a process to bring about the best version of ourselves, while simultaneously fulfilling His will. Why not take time today to ask God to move again, and this time accept the peace He offers, let His joy flow freely, and know that you are loved.