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.

True loves reward

Examine our reward (Matthew 10:34-42). The Jews thought when Messiah came, he would establish a time of world peace. Matthew 10:34~Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword (μάχαιρα machaira). (ESV) (μάχαιρα machaira) is a small sword for cutting, not unlike what a real butcher would use today. This refers to the suffering His followers will experience because of their loyalty to Him. People want to cut Christians apart. Listen to how James says this in James 4:4~You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (ESV) 

Jesus explains that even family members will be set against each other, as we find enemies in own households (10:35-36). There will always be opponents to the Gospel and, sadly, sometimes they are family members or close friends. Listen to Matthew 13:57~And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” (NIV)

However, when the choice is Christ or family, Jesus says in Matthew 10:37~Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (ESV) That’s hard, but Jesus is saying He must be number one in our lives. Matthew 10:38~And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (ESV) Our cross is whatever makes it difficult for us to faithfully follow Christ. Sadly it can oftentimes be the hostility of a family member. This is why it is so vital that before we are married we choose a mate that loves the Lord God with all their hearts.

The Christian life is a paradox. Matthew 10:39~Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (ESV) If you are not familiar with Jim Elliot look him up. I love his story. Jim Elliot was a missionary who in 1956 went to Ecuador. Where he and a small group set out to win the local cannibals to Christ. Though Jim will meet Jesus for his attempt to share the Gospel, many of these will be won to Jesus by his wife. Jim said He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. This means we were freely given the Gospel of Jesus Christ and when we accept it, we cannot lose Jesus, when we’re walking with Him daily, living before the Lord. Moreover, Jim also said, God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. Choose Jesus. 

As our Lord draws our passage to a close, He offers us some very encouraging words. Matthew 10:40~Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. (ESV) Have you received Jesus Christ? How people treat one of Jesus’ followers represents their attitude toward Jesus. Therefore, “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” 

Matthew 10:41~The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. (ESV) A prophet is one who proclaims God’s Word. A righteous person is a devout disciple of Jesus. The word receives means to receive the messenger and the message. What if a follower of Jesus is not a preacher, missionary, or in full-tune ministry? What does Jesus say about His little ones, those who may seem to be insignificant Matthew 10:42~ And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (ESV) 

Our Takeaway: God is a Rewarder. No act of kindness toward any follower of Jesus will go without a reward. Those who serve the Lord in the nursery, teach in Sunday school, serve as ushers, greeters, deacons, or whatever capacity, will receive God’s reward for helping His little ones—the seemingly least of His disciples.