Summary: A LOOK AT JOHN THE BAPTIST IS HIS LAST DAYS AS HE STRUGGLED TO BELIEVE WHAT HE HAD DECLARED FOR HIS ENTIRE LIFE
Matthew 11:2-14 – The Dark Night of the Soul
2. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
3. And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
4. Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see:
5. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
7. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8. But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
9. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
11. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
13. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
14. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
I came across an interview with the evangelist Billy Graham where he was questioning if there might be salvation for people who had not believed on Jesus Christ. While it is clear that the scripture says, “there is no other name under heaven, whereby we must be saved,” because of the legacy of brother Graham, I was very bothered by this.
As I pondered, my mind went to the text of scripture before us today. Whether you are a John the Baptist, or Evangelist Billy Graham, or the prophet Elijah, you will find your faith in the crucible of uncertainty as you face the dark night of the soul.
Let us look at the background of John the Baptist who asks the question, “are you he that should come, or should we look for another.”
I. Prophesied Destiny
a. John was so chosen that his life & ministry were foretold by the prophet Isaiah:
i. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God.
ii. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.
iii. The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
iv. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
v. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
c. Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the Lord of hosts."
II. Preconception Miracles
a. His priestly father, Zechariah, who was old and barren, received news of his coming miraculous birth from the mighty angel Gabriel
b. The news was so unbelievable that devout Zechariah was made speechless for 9 months because he did not believe
III. Early Spirituality
a. Nazirite commitment––Luke 1:15—For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
b. Recognized the Messiah––Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
c. While we don’t know the details of his early years, we can surmise that he chose his calling over the priestly path of his birthright
IV. His Ministry Begins
a. With unorthodox clothing, food, and message, he proclaims, “you brood of vipers, who warned you to flee the coming wrath” and “the axe is already laid at the root of the tree”