Summary: Waiting is one of the hardest things we are called to do. And sometimes our expectations get skewed in the meantime.
Passage: Matthew 11:1-6
Intro: There are few things in the human experience as intense as waiting for something.
1. It seems like we spend our whole lives waiting to grow up, for our birthdays, our graduation, our marriage, our kids and our grandkids.
2. and of course, we wait in incredible anticipation for Christmas day, especially when we are kids.
3. anticipation brings expectations, as we search for clues to reveal what our presents will be.
4. but sometimes Christmas can be full of crushing disappointment when new bikes become argyle socks and mittens.
5. this kind of anticipation was rampant in Israel, anticipation of the Promised Messiah who would come and change everything.
6. and for one guy, who he anticipated interfered with his joy at the gift he received.
7. very simple this morning, the problem and the solution.
I. The Problem: Putting My Desires Above God’s Plan
1. John the Baptist is one of the most respected characters in the Bible.
2. unrelenting prophet of God, spoke the truth, recognized and glorified Jesus.
3. but things had not turned out as John had anticipated.
4. v2, “John heard in prison”…takes us back to another event.
5. John had run afoul of Herod, ruler of Israel.
PP Matthew 14:3
6. so he was sitting in prison, which is probably not what he had expected.
7. when Jesus came, he had probably anticipated being part of Jesus’ team
8. and instead, he had been benched.
9. but could he take comfort in what Jesus was doing anyway?
10. Go back to Matthew 3:10-12
11. John’s expectations were for judgment, and what did he hear?
12, he heard about healing, preaching, God’s grace to sinful man.
13. and frankly, he didn’t care for it very much.
14. he was so disappointed that he sent his disciples to ask a very pointed question.
15. v3, are you “the Coming One”=the Promised One of God, or should be look for another?”
16. this is the same John who cried out “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
17. his unmet expectations caused him to doubt the very message he had given.
Il) William Miller and the explanation of the great disappointment of 1844
18. we can experience the same thing with the Christian life, not what I was expecting, perhaps.
19. but there is a solution to this disappointment.
II. The Solution: Get the Whole Picture and Believe!
1. Jesus’ response here was so gentle, and
so full of the truth.
2. does he criticize or berate? No!
3. he simply points John in the direction of all the evidence.
4. the list that he gives is drawn from the prophecies of Isaiah.
5. only two actual quotations of phrases, so the focus is on the big picture.
6. and these verses gives a picture of God’s grace.
PP) Isaiah 29:18-21
PP) Isaiah 35:5-6
PP) Isaiah 42:18
7. John had made the mistake of focusing on part of the OT picture, and forgetting that God is bigger than his expectations.
PP Exodus 34:6
8. there is a thread that runs thru the people of God, a thread that prefers judgment to grace.
Il) Jonah unhappy that Nineveh was spared.
PP Jonah 4:1-2
PP) Luke 9:52-54
9. John the Baptist was in this current, and Jesus gently encouraged him to trust in God’s plan and purpose.
10. don’t be scandalized by me, don’t be offended by who I am and what God is doing.
11. the blessed man or woman is in agreement with what God is doing, even if that plan involves suffering and mistreatment.
12. John preferred at this point to respond to sin in a human way; revenge and retribution.
13. God’s response to sin was to send His son into the world as a baby, and then in the words of John the Baptist himself, to provide him as the only acceptable sacrifice to deal with the sin of the world first with forgiveness and love, and then if that was rejected, with judgment.
Conc. So here we are at Christmas, and the world is still a rotten place.
1. people don’t want us to put up anything that deals with Jesus.
2. the “real meaning of Christmas” has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas.
3. The quiet joy of the Saviors birth has turned into another opportunity to separate us from our money.
4. and still God’s grace shines, still God’s voice calls, still God’s Spirit works, still God’s word is proclaimed, still the blind gain sight and the lame walk and the terrible effects of sin are moderated.
5. and God’s people are called to walk in step with God and continue to show His character of grace and love and mercy until God himself decides to mix more judgment with grace in a last call to believe in the One He has sent.
6. celebrate the greatest gift ever given, and share it with others.