Summary: Do good Christians sometimes doubt the reality of the testimony they hold? Do strong believers have moments when they are unsure about the Christ they have so boldly proclaimed? What should they do in these moments of doubt when life is against them & God
MATTHEW 11: 1-6 [THE MESSIAH REVEALED Series]
THE UNSWAYED MESSIAH
[ Isaiah 35:2b-l0]
Do good Christians sometimes doubt the reality of the testimony they hold? Do believers who shouted from the roof tops have moments when they are unsure about the Christ they have so boldly proclaimed? What should they do in these moments of doubt when life is against them and God doesn’t seem to heed their prayers? They should reflect back to what they have seen and experienced Jesus accomplish and be content with the ministry He is performing in the lives of others (CIM). We are not to disbelieve because He seems unheeding of our present difficulty. Our doubting will not force Him to prove Himself. He responds to faith, not doubt.
I. JESUS' MINISTRY, 1.
II. JOHN'S QUESTION, 2-3.
III. JESUS' SOVEREIGNTY, 4-6.
In verse 1 Jesus finishes instructing His disciples then He sets out on his own ministry. “When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. "
The twelve disciples needed a few more instructions [διατασαων] distributed among them and they were ready to fulfill their outreach responsibility. Jesus also departed to continue ministering in the cities of Galilee. His ministry focused on teaching and preaching. Teaching is didasko which is to "explain" and “give instruction." He exegeted or interpreted the Scriptures for them. After establishing a solid doctrinal understanding or foundation by His teaching He would preach (kerusso) or announced - proclaimed the people's responsibility to respond to God's Word (particularly the Gospel). Still today people first and foremost need to understand God's Word and then be exhorted to live it out.
II. JOHN'S QUESTION, 2-3.
While Jesus was teaching and preaching, disciples of John the Baptist approach Jesus with a question from John. Let us look to the greatest among men and learn a lesson of faith, starting with verse 2. “Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples"
Herod, the ruler of Israel, had taken his brother’s wife as his own, and John the Baptist boldly, pointedly publically rebuked Herod's flagrant sin (14:3-5). Herod retaliated by imprisoning John. The dark, frightfully hot dungeons of Macherus [Josephus] deprived prisoners of fresh air, bodily exercise, cheerful mental employment, and the opportunity to do good. This man of power in word and deed became despondent in his forced idleness.
John had been in prison for about a year there. He probably wasn’t worried initially. He probably thought, that’s okay. Messiah’s on the scene. He’ll spring me out of here in no time. Don’t the prophecies declare He shall open prison doors and set the captive free? I won’t be in here long! No problem! [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 79.]
As John sat week after week, month after month in that dingy, damp dungeon he began to have some doubts about whether Jesus was the Messiah. John's purpose was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah (3:3). If Jesus was the Messiah why was he in prison instead of preaching and preparing the people for Him?
John's doubts apparently came from His personal situation which was not being addressed by Jesus. The works of Christ which John heard of were very remarkable. But he wondered why the King of God's kingdom working such powerful and astonishing miracles would leave His devoted servant and herald to languish in unjust imprisonment cut off from his calling. John pictured the Messiah coming in power to free him and punish the sinners but Jesus' works and words were those of grace and mercy.
But John did the right thing. He took his doubts and frustrations to Jesus.
Verse 3 contains the question John sent to Jesus. “And said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’”
So John sent word to Jesus: “What’s going on? You’re Messiah, aren’t You? That’s what I was preaching. I even saw the dove of the Spirit descend upon You. Why, then, haven’t You established Your kingdom? Why am I still in prison?”
Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever ask, “Lord, why are you not acting on my behalf? Why haven’t You answered my prayer? Why haven’t You worked it out, Lord? Week after month after year has gone by, and still you haven’t responded.” John did. So he sent emissaries to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah. If not, they would start looking for another.
“Are You”- emphatic, the Expected One [erchómenos] or Coming One (Ps. 117:26; Isa. 59:20; Zech. 9:9; Dan. 7: 13; Mk. 11:9; Lk.13:35,19:38; Heb. 10:37)? Now in Matthew 4:11-15 John had already baptized Jesus as the Coming One, the long expected Messiah. He knew but he now was puzzled. Jesus was not the type of Messiah he expected. Since He was not what John expected nor doing for or with John what he expected, could it be that Jesus was not the Messiah? [Matthew used heteron rather than allos for someone else suggests that John was expecting a Messiah of a different sort.]