Luke 7: 18 – 35 NLT
“The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, 19 and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
20 John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”
21 At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. 22 Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 23 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me. (or are not offended by me)”
24 After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’ (Malachi 3: 1)
28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
29 When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, (or praised God for his justice) for they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.
31 “To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them? 32 They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t weep.’
33 For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.”
I suspect that many of you have had moments of doubt, wondering whether the Bible was true, whether God really cared about the details of your life. I know I have. Sometimes when I think of all the scientific discoveries we’ve made in the last 50 years, I wonder if there could really be a God who knows all that information, a being who has that huge of a brain. Sometimes I wonder does this amazing God who is looking after the billions of people in this world, really care what happens in my everyday life? We are not alone in our moments of doubt. Here is John the Baptist asking Jesus – “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
John was born into a priest’s family when his parents were past the child-bearing age. I’m sure he heard his mom and dad tell him what a miracle baby he was. He would have been told about his dad’s inability to speak during the pregnancy and how he got his voice back on the 8th day after birth when John was circumcised. Zacharias would have told him about the prophecy he received that day:
“And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 76 – 79)
He was the one who baptized Jesus, who said he was not worthy to even “untie his sandals” (Mark 1: 9). At Jesus’ baptism, John heard that voice from heaven who said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matt. 3: 17) If you read the first chapters of the gospels, you will read the ‘sermons’ John gave to the crowds of people who came to see him in the wilderness. He was certain he was preparing the way for the Messiah.
When you realize how much John believed in who Jesus was, you might wonder why he questioned Jesus now. Life was difficult now. He was in prison. There was also a common hope that Jesus would end the Roman rule and restore Israel to its former glory – and it wasn’t happening. No wonder, John had doubts.
Charles R. Swindoll in his commentary on Luke says, “Doubts force us to pursue the truth. Doubts fuel the believer’s pursuit of real answers to life’s most troubling questions. Doubts make deep divers out of novice swimmers. Doubts cause us to go down into the labyrinthine realm of profound truths to find treasures many people don’t even know exist. … Many things lead us to honest doubt. Circumstances that appear completely random cause us to question the faithfulness of God. When good people suffer and evil people prosper, we begin to wonder abut the fairness of God. The weight of public opinion and the way nonbelievers present scientific evidence can cause us to doubt the existence of God.” (page 191, Living Insights: Luke)
We have doubts. John had doubts.
Jesus sends a message back to John. “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (v. 22) John would know that was a reference to Isaiah 35: 3 – 6:
“With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
4 Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.”
Jesus assured John that he was the Messiah – just not the one that the Israelites were hoping for. He reminded John what the scriptures said.
Life often doesn’t turn out the way we expect. Sometimes our hopes and dreams actually come true. Sometimes life brings difficulty and things that really turn us upside down. Like John, we begin to have our doubts. How do we deal with that? Read our Bibles. There is a lot of historical fact in that book. There is a lot of excellent advice on how to live well. As you read it, the Holy Spirit helps us understand who God is and how much he loves us. Pray. Again, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through our talking with God as we sense his presence. Look around you at the people you meet at church. Do you respect those people, are you inclined to think they are sincere in their faith? That was one thing that always made me stop in my doubts. If those people who I looked up to believed strongly in God, then it couldn’t be fantasy.
Think of those times in your life when you realized God was at work. I’ve mentioned some of them in past devotions. Things like the job I received when I needed to get back to work, a job I never would have taken except it was the only one offered – and it turned out to be the best one of my life. My husband’s death was devastating. We had met when I was 18 and he had been my best friend ever since. But now, I have the time to write these devotions, time I never had before. It’s not that I don’t miss him – I do every day – but I also realize God has plans for me, unexpected plans.
If you find you’re doubting, you are not alone. But God will find a way to reassure you of his presence and love.
Our song for today is Dare to Believe by Colton Dixon