Summary: When We Don’t Understand Series: Encountering Jesus (in the Gospel of Luke) Brad Bailey – April 28, 2019

When We Don’t Understand

Series: Encountering Jesus (in the Gospel of Luke)

Brad Bailey – April 28, 2019

Text: Luke 7:18-35 – Exchange with John the Baptist about clarifying what should have been expected


It’s so good to gather with you this morning. I appreciate the distinct places we may be at… some having formed gathering as a foundational part of a relationship with Christ…some in a process of what they believe.

No matter where we are at as we gather…I think each of us will find it helpful to consider this as we seek to know and live in relationship to God…”on whose terms” will we relate? In other words… are we unconsciously working out if God will serve or plans…or if we will join His?

As we continue in our extended series Encountering Jesus through the Gospel of Luke… we engage what may seem like a surprising point in the life which knew Jesus from the beginning…

Luke 7:18-19

John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

John’s situation

Such a short and simple statement…but this question… reflects so much of what had been growing inside of John.

It’s a question that can reflect the conflict any of us could feel at some point when what we expect is not what we are experience.

To appreciate what this question represents for John…and for us… lets recall his position.

This John… is the one often referred to as “John the Baptist.”

Luke started his whole account of the life of Jesus with the account of John who was conceived miraculously to parents in the old age…and who was set apart from the womb to serve as the forerunner of Christ…the Messiah. And so it was that he became a prophet living in the wilderness of Judea…who came calling people to repent and turn to God again… in preparation for the Messiah who was at hand. He baptized people in the Jordan river…in a baptism…of repentance. And then as the time was right…he announced Jesus as the Messiah. He had said of Jesus many months before, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who comes to take away the sins of the world.” — He is the one who is going to lay His righteous acts to the root of the wicked generation and fell that tree and restore righteousness in Israel and establish the kingdom of God and the servant of David was going to reign forever and ever….And thus began the ministry of Jesus.

So how could John… the very forerunner…the presenter…the insider… now seem so uncertain about whether Jesus was actually the Messiah after all?

It’s very likely that John became deeply confused by both what Jesus was doing…and what he wasn’t doing. John had come as the last of the prophets…one who was set apart…he accepted the Nazarite vow of living an austere life… drinking no alcohol… allowing him to stand in the position of an outsider when called on. No doubt life was hard…lonely… but he bore the message of repentance…to prepare for the grace God would bring.

So when Jesus the is set apart and begins declaring God’s reign was at hand… he is freely moving through the people…bearing grace… in social events and included in parties. The Savior of the world was not like any prophet before him.

And perhaps even more confusing…is what Jesus was not doing. He was not confronting the tyranny of Rome. Jesus was focused on the political freedom from Roman oppression. He was speaking about the powers of this world…and setting people free from spiritual oppression…but the kingdom he was revealing may have been hard for John to initially understand at this point.

John had stood up to the local Roman ruler… King Herod…who in turn has locked him away in prison. So John is locked away… by the local ruling tyrant — and a wicked one at that. Imagine how hard it would be to understand Jesus helping others and leaving John in a dark and miserable dungeon. After all he was the one who had prepared the way. He had been faithful in carrying out the ministry given to him, how could God allow him to remain in prison? [1a]

I think it was a hard question to ask. [1b]

It’s a question about everything that matters.

His whole life had been defined by serving this cause.

It was his identity.

He just couldn’t understand how his experience fit his expectation.

And this can lead to a type of doubt.

It’s important to recognize that there are …

Different types of doubt…

• Doubt which reflects difficulty in understanding

John has been faithful… and now he simply cannot understand…

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