Summary: John the Baptist’s question and Jesus’ response helps us find the path to the truth about Jesus when He doesn’t live up to our expectations.
The Proof is in the Puddin’
Thursday while the area youth ministers were meeting in the sanctuary the vendor for our video projector came to help us troubleshoot a problem. As we went down to my office he asked me what they were talking about, I told him they were practicing sharing with young people why they should consider Christianity. He said, "That’s a very good question, why should they?" This led to an hour and a half discussion of Who Jesus is and what He has to offer.
In the brief story we read today John the Baptist has a similar question about Jesus. He wants to know if Jesus is really the one he had been waiting for.
Proposition: John’s question and the way Jesus responds to it points us toward the path that leads to the truth about Jesus.
Transition: You know, I believe that as each of us walk the path of faith we sometimes find ourselves at the crossroads of doubt, just like John. So this morning I’d like to look at the path the Baptist walked to find the truth about Jesus. There are three important points along that path that I’d like to consider with you the first is the starting point. The path begins with...
vv. 2-3 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
Now let me remind you that at the time that Jesus had been baptized by John he had clearly pointed him out as the promised Messiah.
What had happened? I think that Jesus hadn’t turned out to be the Messiah that John had expected. Remember John’s message was an unrelenting message of Judgment and the need for repentance. John left the sermon title the same in his bulletin every week and the title was "Turn or Burn."
That uncompromising message was what landed him in Jail because He had accused Herod the king and his wife of Incest.
I think he expected Jesus to bring the same message in high gear:
Mat 3:11 I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Yet Jesus came with a message of grace, he came healing, he came associating with sinners, he put a tax collector on the deacon board.
I think John was a little confused, he wasn’t understanding that Grace was the other side of the coin of Judgment.
Jesus wasn’t all that he expected.
You know I have to admit that Jesus hasn’t always been all that I expected either. Life hasn’t always been what I thought should come my way.
Maybe you’ve felt that way too. Maybe you’ve felt like Jesus has let you down. Life has been confusing, things haven’t been fair. You’ve lost those you loved, your dreams have been shattered.
So what did John do? He asked Jesus if he really was the answer. And it’s OK for you to ask too.
In response to John’s inquiry Jesus gives the necessary...
vv. 4-5 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The 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."
Notice that Jesus doesn’t criticize John for a lack of faith. He understands John’s confusion. Jesus doesn’t fear the question because He has the answer.
Jesus says to John, "You’re focused on the wrong thing, coinsured how what I am doing fulfills the prophecies, healing, restoring, a message of Good News for the outcast."
Yes there are other prophecies that talk about a Messiah who comes in Judgment, and that time is coming when Jesus comes the second time. John had become focused on that narrow portion of the message and Jesus just wanted to remind him, "Hey, remember these other prophecies?"
Similarly when we have doubts about Jesus the source is usually a limited perspective. We get focused on those things that are closest to us, or our own expectations, and we fail to see the big picture.
I believe Jesus asks us to consider the big picture too: "Consider how I’m working in the world, consider my power, consider what I’ve already done, Consider the Good News that I’ve given my life for your sins."
Jesus doesn’t negate our issues, or say that they’re unimportant, He just asks us to consider all the information. And then he asks us our...