Summary: Jesus and John the Baptist. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Luke chapter 7 verses 18-35.
• Lord Halifax, who was a former foreign secretary of Great Britain,
• Once shared a railway compartment with two prim-looking spinsters.
• A few moments before reaching his destination the train passed through a tunnel.
• In the utter darkness Halifax kissed the back of his hand noisily several times.
• When the train drew into the station,
• He rose, lifted his hat, and in a gentlemanly way said:
• “May I thank whichever one of you two ladies I am indebted to;
• For the charming incident in the tunnel.”
• He then beat a hasty retreat,
• Leaving the two ladies glaring at each other.
• What a great trick for leaving two prim and stuffy ladies in doubt;
• And wondering did my friend really kiss him or not?
• Man who slipped of the edge of a cliff;
• Managed to grab hold of the edge but was unable to pull himself up.
• He shouted for help but it was all in vain;
• “Help, help! Is there anybody there?”
• The he heard a voice saying;
• “I am the Lord your God, let go and I will rescue you”.
• Looking down at the great drop below him, he again shouted out;
• “Is there anyone else there?”
Most Christians, at one time or another have had to do battle with doubt:
• Now I believe that having doubts is not wrong!
• Often they can lead us to a deeper stronger faith.
• G. Campbell Morgan was pastor of Westminster Chapel in London;
• And was one of the leading Bible teachers in his day. "The Prince of Expositors"
By the time he was 19 years old.
• Campbell Morgan had already enjoyed some success as a preacher
• But then he was attacked by doubts about the Bible.
• The writings of various scientists and agnostics disturbed him
• (e.g. Charles Darwin, John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, and Herbert Spencer).
• As he read their books and listened to debates,
• Morgan became more and more perplexed.
• Question: What did he do?
• Answer: He cancelled all preaching engagements, put all the books in a cupboard
• And locked the door,
• He then went to the bookstore and bought a brand new Bible.
He said to himself,
“I am no longer sure that this is what my father claims it to be—the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself.”
The result? “That Bible found me!” said Morgan.
• The new assurance in 1883 gave him the motivation for his preaching & teaching ministry.
• He devoted himself to the study and preaching of God’s Word.
Doubts are not always the enemy of the Christian:
• Sometimes it's in the depths of doubt that we discover God's richest treasures.
• Instead of making us sinking swimmers or prisoners in a brig,
• Questions make us deep-sea divers, searching for truth.
• They lead us to a stronger faith
• Quote: Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
• “There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds”.
• It is worth pointing out;
• That so many of the ‘giants’ of the Bible at one time or another suffered from doubts:
• Abraham, Moses, David;
• Even the man Jesus said; ‘was the greatest’ the man – John the Baptist!
And don’t forget:
• That John was spiritually blessed in a way many of us never were!
• e.g. An angel announced his birth,
• e.g. His conception was miraculous; born of elderly parents.
• e.g. “Filled with the Holy Spirit from birth”.
• John was God's steel-tipped arrow,
• Tempered in the desert and aimed right at the heart of the nation.
• John was a prophet and like so many of the prophets,
• He found himself in mortal combat with despair and its chief envoy, doubt.
(A). Jesus with his Disciples (verses 18-19):
(1). An anxious request (vs 19-21).
“John's disciples told him about all these things [the miracles at Capemaum and Nain]. Calling two of them, 1hhe sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
• Now remember; the one who was asking this question;
• Is the same man who just a few months earlier,
• Had flashed his announcement like lightning across a black sky?
• "Behold, (stare, gaze) the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
Somewhere along the line:
• For John the baptiser, his exclamation point had secretly curled into a question mark: