Summary: This sermon looks at John’s question: "Are you the one to come or do we look for another?" Ravi Zacharias asked a similar question "In a world of many religions...why Jesus?" "I love to quote Ravi... his words are right on. All religions are not the s
In Jesus Holy Name December 16, 2007
Text: Matthew 11:1-4 Advent III - Redeemer
“Second Thoughts: Are You the One?”
Our story begins with John the Baptist in prison. He was placed there by King Herod Antipas. John’s preaching held no favorites. He had publicly called for Herod to repent. You see, Herod Antipas had seduced his brother’s wife on a trip to Rome. After returning to Jerusalem, Herod divorced his wife and married his sister-in-law.
John was doing what God had called him to do. He was the prophetic voice on one crying in the wilderness… Repent. Prepare your hearts. Reform your behavior. The judgment of God, the day of His wrath is coming. By the hundreds, by the thousands they came to the river. They stepped into the water and asked for forgiveness.
No trial. No charges. Month after month he found himself waiting. His public words were silenced. He was wondering if his work was successful.
In prison John was having second thoughts. If Jesus was the promised Messiah….where was the fire and brimstone? He expected Jesus the Messiah to punish the Herod’s of the world. He knew the prophecies of Isaiah 11:4 “…where the coming Messiah would strike the earth with a rod and slay the wicked with the breath of his lips.” He knew Isaiah 61:2 where it says that God’s anointed would proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. So, John sent his disciples to ask: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
It’s a fair question. Even God’s greatest people ask their questions. We all have our doubts. Let’s be honest. There are literally thousands of religions from which you can choose. Have you picked the right one?
Is the cross of Jesus the only bridge that spans the gulf of sin that separates lost humanity from God’s perfect holiness? He is or He isn’t.
Ravi Zacharias, who grew up in India, asks a similar question in his book. “In a world with so many religions, Why Jesus?” Our post modern culture struggles with the fundamental claims of Jesus. The following comments are typical in an America culture that has willingly embraced a multitude of religions.
“Aren’t all religions fundamentally the same?’
“Was Jesus who He claimed to be?” That’s John’s question.
Ravi Zacharias begins chapter one: “Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim that it is a “better” way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.” “all religions, plainly and simply, can not be true. Some beliefs are false, and we know them to be false. So it does not good to put a halo on the notion of tolerance as if everything could be equally true. In the real life struggles between right and wrong, justice and injustice, life and death, we all realize that truth does matter.” (Ravi Zacharias Jesus Among Other Gods p. 4)
John’s question matters, even today. “Was Jesus who He claimed to be? Is He “the way, the truth, and the life?” No one comes to the Father except though me.” (John 14:6)
Every word of that statement shocks post modern mindsets. Hinduism and Bahaism have long challenged the concept of a single way to God. And now the Bishop of the Episcopalian Denomination agrees that there are many ways to God.
Jesus claimed that we can personally know God and the absolute nature of his love and truth. Agnostics deny that possibility. Jesus revealed himself as the Son of God who opens the door to heaven through his death and resurrection. Islam considers that claim to be blasphemous, and so did the Pharisees and Sadducees.
All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God, the Creator, the Author of life.
John had every right to ask the question…Are you the one to come are we to look for another? Before John was born, His purpose in life had been set. He was the fore runner of the Messiah, the Savior. His job was to call people to repentance. The waiting was over…or was it?
Jesus answered John’s question. Jesus told John how he could be sure. “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life….Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.
His life was holy. He challenged his adversaries to convict him of sin. (John 8:16) They could not. He forgave the sins of others….but he himself needed no forgiveness. We know God is holy… and we know we are far away from Him. Therefore a bridge must be built over the canyon that separates a Holy God from sinful people. God must come to us so that we might come to know his love instead of fear.