Summary: Now in prison, John is second guessing if Jesus is indeed the Messiah.
We are going to end our series, “Less is More with God.” But my hope is that over these past few weeks, you got your mind and heart wrapped around that Bible Principle. It is a principle that can be found over and over throughout the Bible. Let’s take a look at a couple of those Scriptures.
Matthew 10:39 (NIV)
39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
John 3:30 (NKJV)
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
The thing about this Biblical principle is that the world doesn’t get it. The world’s principle is: more is more and less is certainly less. But to the Christian, it makes perfect sense that less is more with God.
Today, John is going to teach us a whole different lesson but just as valuable a lesson as we close out our series. John is in prison, in our passage today, because he confronted Herod the tetrarch about taking his brother’s wife. Herod has him arrested, and John is thinking to himself that this should not be- I am the forerunner of Christ, and being that forerunner lands me in jail! And so he is starting to second guess if Jesus is the Messiah. To know for sure, John sends his disciples to ask Jesus if you are the Messiah. John was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah when He came to the wilderness to be baptized. Remember, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” John was convinced that Jesus is the Messiah when John’s own disciples began to question the role of Jesus. But now in prison, John is second-guessing if that is true.
I am sure that there have been times in your life that you have second-guessed God. How many of you have second-guessed God? So, I think this sermon will be relevant to everyone here. Let’s begin by reading our Scripture.
Matthew 11:2-11 (NIV)
2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples
3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
5 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.
6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
7 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.
9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
10 This is the one about whom it is written: "'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'
11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
We think God’s will for our lives should always be straight as we define straight, but God’s straight might involve some crooked paths along the way.
John was ministering in the desert, teaching the people about the coming Messiah. He got the privilege of baptizing the Messiah. After Jesus left John, John continued to baptize in the region of Salim, as we saw last week. When his disciples had doubts about Jesus, John was a stalwart of the faith, and he told them just how it is. Jesus must increase, and I must decrease.
John’s straight path as he saw it was probably ministering to the people in the countryside until the day he died. John had no idea that his serving Christ would end him up in jail and eventually beheaded. So he is second-guessing Jesus because his life took a crooked path.
This leads us to the Scripture that we need to make a mental note of. It is found in Ecclesiastes 7:13 (NIV)
13 Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
Listen, sometimes the straight path to be more like Christ involves a crooked road. Jesus says, in our passage, we just read, that there is no one greater than John the Baptist. But how did he get there? The man of the wilderness is now in jail. Following Jesus had put John on a crooked road. A road that John was second-guessing as to why he was even on it.