Summary: 3rd in series - "Living Life on Purpose, Christ’s Answers to Our Questions". This sermon deals with another question from John the Baptist.
Several years ago a newspaper in Biloxi, Mississippi ran an article about an attempted suicide. A young woman apparently thought her life held no meaning so she jumped off a bridge into the waters of the Mississippi River.
A man nearby saw her jump, and without thinking, jumped in after her. It didn’t occur to him until after he was in the water that he couldn’t swim!
His screams for help and flailing limbs caught the attention of the young woman who pulled the drowning man to safety.
The writer of the newspaper article finished with this thought: "It wasn’t the gentleman who saved that woman’s life that night; it was purpose. No doubt, the man meant well. But what he provided for her was one moment where life offered meaning: the opportunity to save a man’s life. She had a clear purpose and objective...She tapped into the energy that was inside all the time when she finally linked up to a mission."
That’s why we’ve been closely observing the life of Jesus these last several Sundays. The purpose-driven life of Christ teaches us how to live life with meaning.
There is a story of a philosopher who took a stroll one evening to ponder the meaning of life. With disheveled hair and dressed in ragged clothes he wandered in the rain through dimly lit streets in a state of deep reflection. The police noticed him and thought he looked suspicious so they abruptly cornered him and asked, "Who are you?" and "Where are you going?" To which the philosopher replied, "Those are the very questions I’m trying to answer. Can you help me?"
We’ve been investigating a set of question and answer dialogues between Jesus and those around Him during His earthly ministry that can indeed help us!
In the first sermon in the series we considered the first question of John the Baptist - "Am I Good Enough?" The answer was, "in Christ" we are good enough!
Last week we digested the question of the disciples before Christ’s miracle of the feeding of the 4,000 - "Do I Have Enough?" Christ’s answer was through a miracle which proved that with God’s help we can have more than enough if we will yield ourselves to Him.
Today we deal with another question of eternal importance - "Is Christ Enough?"
The key verse from the Bible text we read is Matthew 11:3 - "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
John knew that the "Messiah", or in the Greek language, the "Christ" (John 1:41), was going to come as God’s anointed deliverer and ruler. He wanted to know if Jesus was indeed the Christ.
This is a puzzling question at face value, coming from John, because of his earlier statements about Jesus.
John 1:29 - The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
30 - This is the one I meant when I said, "A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me."
31 - I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.
32 - Then John gave the testimony: "I saw the Spirit of God come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
33 - I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ’The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
34 - I have seen and testify that he is the Son of God."
So why did John ask for further evidence of Christ’s credentials as the Promised Messiah if he was previously convinced?
Some say John became discouraged while he was languishing in prison and needed assurance. Since even the greatest people of faith are not exempt from discouragement we can’t count this possibility out totally. However it does seem out of character for John. Having been a patron of the wilderness he was accustomed to deprivation and loneliness.
Others have suggested that John sent his followers to Jesus with the question for their benefit. Maybe, but that hypothesis doesn’t seem to have any real concrete scriptural support either.
A third and quite plausible explanation for John’s question is that Jesus wasn’t carrying out His ministry the way John envisioned the Messiah should have. John’s mission had the distinct characteristic of judgment, while Christ’s ministry had the distinction of mercy. Perhaps John was perplexed. His sincere Old Testament view of things may have caused his perception of the Messiah to be askew.
Why hadn’t Jesus called down the wrath of God on sinners? Why hadn’t the King of Kings dethroned the despots of Roman tyranny? Why hadn’t Jesus abolished the hypocritical religious establishment? If you look closely at the content of John’s preaching and character of his lifestyle this is quite a possible scenario.