SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
Passage: Luke 7:18-23,
“John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus
Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’” And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
Memory Verse James 1:6 (NIV)
“BUT WHEN HE ASKS, HE MUST BELIEVE AND NOT DOUBT, BECAUSE HE WHO DOUBTS IS LIKE A WAVE OF THE SEA, BLOWN AND TOSSED BY THE WIND.”
According to the author of the Book of Hebrews, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1, NIV). He continues to teach that without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (v. 6). The above and many more references in scripture make it clear that faith is very important for a believer’s relationship with God. Unfortunately many Christians sometimes express doubts about the person, the power, the words and the works of Jesus Christ. This is not new because John the Baptist, the man who Baptized Jesus Christ, also expressed doubts about who Jesus Christ was when he found himself in a very difficult situation. In this edition, we want to find out more about what happened in Luke 7:18-23 (above).
The disciples of John the Baptist had seen and heard everything Jesus was doing and had gone to tell John the prisoner about the ministry of Jesus Christ. John was languishing in prison because he had confronted Herod on his wrong marital decisions. He hoped that the Messiah he told the world about and the prophets had prophesied about could help him out of his situation. John the Baptist, like any other Jew, was expecting a political Messiah. He expected that Jesus would take up the sword, confront Herod the Great and release him from prison if indeed Jesus was the Messiah the Jews were expecting. Looking at his condition and what his disciples told him about Jesus Christ, John began to doubt whether indeed Jesus was the Messiah. He therefore sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus whether he was the one who was to come or they should expect someone else (Luke 7:20).
It will be wrong to say that John the Baptist was without faith. However it is good to admit that John was overwhelmed with pains that his faith decreased. The decrease in his faith caused him to doubt that Jesus was the son of God as he himself witnessed during Jesus’ baptism. John was there when God said to all those at the Jordan River concerning Jesus:
“YOU ARE MY SON WHOM I LOVE; WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED”(Luke 3:22c, NIV).
Even though John witnessed the above, he still doubted who Jesus was. John was the one who made the following proclamation about Jesus when he saw him coming to him according to John 1:29:
“LOOK, THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.”
Yet when he found himself in a situation he expected Jesus to rescue him from, but did not get any help from him, he started doubting who Jesus was. This happens in the lives of many Christians if not most.
Even though many of us claim to have faith in God, we begin to doubt in our difficult moments. When we find ourselves in conditions in which we expect God to intervene and our expectations are not met, we act and talk as if God is unable to save us or he has forsaken us. John the Baptist would have thought either the Messiah had refused to rescue him, or he was not the Messiah at all. This kind of thought might lead to serious blasphemy against God. We should always understand that challenging and difficult times are part of the Christian walk. They do not mean God does not exist or he has forsaken us. He is always at the place he was when his son was suffering on the cross. And just as he raised him up from death and glorified him, he will surely rescue you from your situation and glorify you before the world. Therefore we have no right to doubt God because of the suffering we may be facing. We should rather ask for his grace to endure trials when they come our way.
When the disciples of John informed Jesus about John’s request, Jesus simply asked them to look at what they saw and report back to John. Jesus was not angry with John. He did not chastise him either. He reminded John of what Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah in Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1. He wanted John to remember that he is the Messiah the prophets prophesied about and that his works are not different from what was spoken about him. Knowing very well that John’s faith was waning, he made a very important statement in verse 23. What Jesus said implied that those who do not lose faith in God because of his ministry are the blessed ones. This means that some people could stumble and fall in their faith if they do not understand the person and mission of Jesus Christ.
Beloved in Christ, even though we may be going through hardships we should continue to hold on to our faith in Christ. We should not doubt God because of the economic, marital, health, and relationship challenges etcetera facing us now. No matter what we are going through we should always know that God is with us so far as we keep our relationship with him intact. May the Lord help us never to stumble in our faith no matter the seriousness of the storm!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.