Text: Luke 7:19-23
A few months before Jesus Christ began openly teaching in Israel, a Jewish priest living along the Jordan River in a tent was causing quite a stir among the people. He wore rough clothing like camel hair held together by a leather belt. His preaching was full of the Spirit of God. His name was John, and because of the ceremonial washing he prescribed for his followers he was called John Baptist. He was the second cousin to Jesus Christ. He was the messenger foretold that would prepare the way for the LORD Jesus Christ. Everything about John’s life illustrated God’s relationship to the Jewish nation He created. John was the Spirit of God in the wilderness, instead of the temple of God. Jesus would say among the prophets John the Baptist was the greatest prophet that ever lived.
John became such a public figure that the government leadership became curious about him. King Herod asked John to come and speak to him. John met with Herod and ended up infuriating Herod’s wife. See, she was Herod’s brother’s wife first, then Herod slept with her and the two got into a relationship. John told Herod it wasn’t right what he and Herodias were doing. Well, she was irate that John would dare question her relationships. How dare this homeless Jewish bigot question who I choose to sleep with! But Herod was still curious about John.
On Herod’s birthday, Herodias threw a party and got Herod loosened up with some drugs and alcohol. With Herod’s morals lubricated, Herodias had her gorgeous daughter come in and strip-tease Herod. When his lusts were fully excited Herod said to the stripper daughter, I’ll give you whatever you want. And Herodias, who set the whole thing up told her daughter to ask for John Baptist’s head on a platter because she hated him so much for his preaching. Well, Herod sobered up a little and regretted the whole thing, but he didn’t want to go back on his word, so he ordered the arrest of John Baptist.
Now, from John’s perspective, he has served God. He has preached the truth. He has prepared the way of the LORD but now finds himself in prison, charged with treason, waiting on death row because he infuriated some politician’s girlfriend. And John Baptist comes to this place of doubt. That’s the question to Jesus in verse 19, are you the one or do we look for someone else?
Genuine questions (vss 18-20)
- God’s greatest prophet suffers a crisis of faith.
- It’s genuine though.
- John isn’t looking for excuses.
- He genuinely lacks information.
- Some doubts arise because you’re honestly missing a piece of the puzzle. You need more information.
- But don’t lose hope during the unknown. More importantly, don’t bring accusations against people or God when you’re still trying to figure out the facts.
- Jesus answers that the scriptures are fulfilled in Him. Everything that has been said about the Messiah is being done by Jesus Christ.
- Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Answered prayer (vss 21-22)
- John is sitting in prison and makes his request known to God. But I can’t help but compare John’s question to Job’s question. Unjust circumstances cause these men to ask questions.
- The difference is one gets a direct answer, but the other doesn’t. And I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why doesn’t Job get a straightforward answer while John does? And here I learned something about answered prayer.
- And as the forerunner, the messenger heralding Christ, John is confused. A messenger who is confused about the message isn’t much of a messenger.
- His concern is legitimate, and very much a part of his identity as the messenger.
- So John’s request is right in line with the will of God.
- Why does that matter? Because as little as you may pray, when you do pray, you pray to get answers.
- While no one can make you care about God’s will for your life, you probably do care about the things you pray about.
- And if God has a habit of answering prayers that pertain to his will for your life, you might want to get more acquainted with what his will is.
- John gets answers to his prayer request because it is absolutely in line with what God’s will for his life is. But he’s not unique in that.
- John the apostle said, This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us: And if we know that we have the petitions we desire of him.
- When you ask God for something to help you do God’s business, that’s something He pays attention to.
- So the LORD Jesus answers John with the fact that all the scriptures about the work of the Messiah are being fulfilled by him. To which he adds a blessing.
Blessed are the unoffended in the things of God (vs 23)
- This world is full of things that will cause you to be offended by Jesus Christ
- The land mines of doubt are everywhere. This life is full of mental traps, heart traps, and thirst traps. (Yes, that’s a phrase you know, but you don’t want church folks to know you know it.)
- Jesus said, Woe unto the world because of offenses! Offenses are inevitable in this world, but be careful you’re not the one creating them.
- Things that’ll cause you to be offended at God aren’t always personal attacks, but in John’s case, it was personal. His life is torn apart and questions about God’s plan arise because of the internal rage of a bitter woman.
- She was mad that John challenged her sexual relationships.
- Offences are generally jarring events. Like Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed:
- But he that received the seed into stony places, (the heart is the stony place) the same received it with joy; But there was no root, just shallow happiness, so it lasts for a while: but when tribulation or persecution came because of the word, he was offended.
- Whatever looked like faith at the beginning was disqualified by the trouble.
- Offended faith makes sin easier because you feel justified in it.
- Offended faith forsakes Jesus Christ as Peter forsook Jesus because he was mad.
- Offended faith stops preaching Jesus Christ. Paul said in Galatians 5:11 that his persecution was the result of the offense of the cross. If he wasn’t willing to put up with the offense of the cross, he would’ve changed his preaching.
- Blessed are the unoffended
- Capture the doubt and make it obedient to Jesus Christ. Casting down imaginations and thoughts that present themselves as reasons Jesus Christ might be wrong.
- Don’t accuse God with unanswered questions and don’t abandon hope in Jesus Christ, eternal life and a future without sin and death, just because the lights went out.