Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 4. Greater than Giants . The Giant, the Gospel and Doubt (Part 2)

. The Giant, the Gospel and Doubt (Part 2)

THE GIANT, THE GOSPEL AND DOUBT

Matthew 11:1-6 (ESV): “When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. 2Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Introduction.

We started a new series three weeks ago in which we are looking at the life, the ministry and the message of John the Baptist. I have entitled the series the Greatest among Giants as Jesus said that there has been no one ever that was born of a woman who is greater than John. However those who are least ‘in the Kingdom’ which is with reference to New Testament believers are greater than he.

According to John 5 there are three witnesses to the person of Christ under God and that is John, The Scriptures and the miracles, but yet in our section for last week and today, it seems that this man who according to Christ is more than a prophet, and is not a reed shaking in the wind or a man dressed in soft clothing has some doubts about Christ.

In verse 2 we read 2Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

In the last sermon we looked at the question John asked, but more important we saw what he did with the question. He did not go running around all over the show with the question, granted he is in prison, neither did he just sit with it in his heart, but he sent two of his disciples straight to Jesus with the question. So today we turn to two more thoughts on the text namely the answer that Jesus gave and the implications for us.

2. The answer Jesus gave.

Now Jesus is alone with the crowd, His twelve disciples have gone out on their mission according to Matthew 10 and Christ encounters the two disciples of John who ask Him this question: “"Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?"

 

Jesus does not condemn John for asking a question like that, He simply responds in verse 4-5 “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”

These are all signs of the establishing of the Kingdom under the ‘ergomai’. Remember John asked Jesus if He is the ‘ergomai’, ‘the coming one’. Or should they be expecting someone else.

So Jesus simply points John back to the oracles of the prophets.

  1. John knew Isaiah 29:18 (ESV) 18In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.”
  2. John knew Isaiah 33:24 (ESV) “And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”; the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.”
  3. He knew Isaiah 35:5-6 (ESV) 5”Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;  6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;”
  4. And he knew Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

So Jesus is saying: "John, if it's your Kingdom expectation that is causing you doubt, look again at these things.  They are all the marks of the Kingdom; you're seeing them in a preview.  Look at my miracles and listen to my words, and believe that I am He.

And then look how Christ ends His answer in verse 6. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” What does He mean by that?  Well, it's a gentle rebuke, a gentle warning.  "If you want to be blessed," He says, "Then don't stumble over me.  Don't doubt."  The word 'offended' is skandalizo;’. You might immediately notice where we get our word ‘scandal’ from.  In the Greek the word actually means 'to trap.' So what Jesus is saying to John is; "blessed is the man who is not trapped by me."  A trap was a crooked stick, and the bait was on the crooked stick, and when the animal grabbed the bait, the crooked stick fell, and the trap got him and he was either caught or dead.  It became a word that meant 'offended.' So the Lord is saying this, "If you want to be blessed, don't allow anything I do or anything I say to lure you into the trap of doubt and make you stumble."

Don't doubt, because if you doubt, you won't be blessed.  It's Beatitude: blessed is the man who doesn't doubt, but trusts. I believe that John was happy with the answer. Remember when John died, the first person they came to tell was Jesus. If John was not happy with the answer then his relationship with Christ would have been tarnished as well.

Clearly, the answer of Christ spells out the credentials of the Messiah and John is happy with that.

3. The implications for us.

Firstly, John’s question helps us to work through any doubt that we might have regarding the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you have any doubt in the claims that Christ made about Himself you need to deal with it. You either believe that Jesus is who He said He is and that He did what He said He did or you need to reject it, you cannot hang in mid-air like a meteorite.

If you believe that Jesus is the Christ who came to take away the sins of the world, that He was born of a virgin, that He lived a sinless life, that He performed the miracles as recorded in the Word of God, that He died as a substitute in my place on the cross of Calvary, that He was raised from the dead and that He appeared to many and that He ascended on high and that He will return one day to fetch His bride to be with Him forever. If you believe all of that, then Christ deserves your full worship and commitment. Then Christ has to be honoured in the same way as we honour the Father, because they share in identity and glory.

If you do not believe that Christ is all that is claimed by Him, then we need to treat Him as a heretic and a mad man and we can go home and have lunch and never return for worship.

If you have any doubt in this regard, then do what John the Baptist did, go straight to Jesus. Go to Jesus in the Old Testament and hear again what the Old Testament Prophets said about the coming King. If you have any doubt in His miracles, then go to Jesus in the gospels and research Him because no man has ever done what He did. If you have any doubt of how the salvation plan works out for you and why Jesus will either be your Saviour or judge, why He will either be the Lamb whose blood saves you or the Lamb whose wrath will be exhibited in judgment, then go to Jesus in the Apostolic writings and ask directly from Him and He will tell you.

You will find the answers like the men on the road to Emmaus discovered. Remember when they walked with Jesus but did not know that it was Him, they said about Jesus, “we thought He was the Christ”. So they were in the middle of doubt, confusion, and perplexity and the Lord came along and opened to them the Scripture.  He began to speak out of the Scripture the things concerning Him, and their eyes were opened, and they saw Him.  They said, "Did not our hearts burn within us as He spoke with us along the way and opened to us the Scripture?"

Secondly, if you believe in Jesus, but somehow various circumstances cause you to doubt, then John’s question is helpful to you.

Mark this – the words of our Lord’s answer to John should sort out all doubt. If you doubt because of difficult circumstances, look at His works; they prove He cares for a people in difficulty.  If you doubt because of worldly influence, look at His works; He is in control, and will show it fully one day.  If you doubt because of incomplete revelation, then look at His works, study them, read them, and see who He is.  If you doubt because of unfulfilled expectation, look again, for these are the previews of what He will do in the Kingdom.  If He could do them then, in the time of John, He proves Himself to be the one who can do them in the Kingdom. If you doubt regarding the way of salvation, listen to the gospel of the Kingdom that he preached to the poor and embrace it.

The words of Christ attested both His own person and the character of the Kingdom.

Our doubts come like John's doubts.  We convince ourselves that we belong to the Lord, and the Lord is going to care for us, and when something goes wrong, we really begin to doubt.  We lose a child to death or unbelief, or lose a husband or wife, or mother or father, or a dear friend, or someone gets cancer or has a heart attack, or a child is struck by a car and crippled for life, or we are without work, or in a financial crisis, and we begin to say, "God, is this what it's supposed to be like when You care and love us?"

Go straight to Jesus, because when answers aren’t enough there is Jesus. Rather acknowledge your doubts and deal with it because do you realize that just as Christ did not reject John in his moments of doubt, He does not reject us. Remember the words of Paul, 2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV) “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”

Thirdly, if you have doubts if Christ is the only one, or if there could be someone else, then go to Jesus.

Men like Joel Osteen cause believers to doubt when He sits on Larry King live and He is not willing to state that Jesus is the only way and that outside Him there is no salvation. You can watch his interview on You Tube, but I was horrified when Larry King asked him if atheists will go to heaven. His answer was clear: “you know Larry, I do not want to judge them, I do not know their hearts.”

His answer sounds oh so gracious, but I have one thing to say to Joel Osteen and that is, Joel do what John did and go ask Jesus, and you will discover that without Christ no one will come to the Father, and that if you have not accepted Jesus as Lord you will face Him as your judge. Joel your answers to Larry King has sowed more doubts in the lives of all your followers than you will ever believe and I think that it is time that you send your disciples to go and listen to Christ in good churches so that they can hear that there is only one name by which man will be saved and that is by the Name of Jesus, because no other name has been given.

I was horrified a few years ago when I read the open letter of apology to Islam that was signed by a few hundred theologians. Besides all the apologies, I was horrified that they would even draw similarities between Christianity and Islam and between the heart of the believer and the heart of an unbeliever. These things cause doubt, and you sit here today and you say, can there be another one? Is Jesus really the only way? What about those that have never heard the gospel? Go to Jesus and hear Him say, “no one comes to the Father but by me.” Go to Him and hear Him say: “I am the resurrection and the live, if any man in me dies, He shall live forever.”

Lastly, if you are convinced about who Jesus is and what He did, if you are convinced that the answer for all your trials are to be found in Him and if you are convinced that Christ is the only answer for the world today and that above Him there is no other, then I invite you this morning that you accept with me that the question of John is about the heart of the gospel and that you will join me in proclaiming the matchless name of the Lord Jesus Christ because He is the one and we are expecting no one else.

The Jews are still crying for the Messiah to come, the Hindus see Him as one of many, the Muslims see Him as just another prophet as good as Mohammed, the Atheists in London like Richard Dawkins are rejecting Him boldly on their busses with anti-Christ slogans painted on the sides, but we know the one and we need to proclaim the one. The world needs to hear from us that Christ is their only hope.

Remember, the world does not know God or His plan; they don't know Christ or understand who He is.  The natural man does not understand the things of God, and if you begin to let the world force you to think that Christ must be who they say He must be, then you'll start doubting.  Don’t listen to the world and all these liberal theologians, God to Jesus.

And my friend we have more than John the Baptist. We have a more sure word, because we have it all recorded for us.  Jesus is the Christ, the hope of glory and there is none other, let us proclaim Him. We have to speak about Christ, the real Christ, the Biblical Christ the historical Christ and nothing but Christ the hope of glory. I want to end today with the words of the song of Scott Wesley Brown which depicts so nicely how to deal with doubt.

You have faced mountains of desperation.

You have climbed, you have fought, you have won.

But this valley that lies coldly before you,

Casts a shadow you cannot overcome.

 

Just when you thought you had it all together.

You knew every verse to get you through.

But this time all the sorrow broke more than just your heart.

And reciting all those verses just won't do.


When answers aren't enough, there is Jesus.
He is more than just an answer to your prayer.
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge.
When answers aren't enough, He is there.

Instead of asking why did it happen?

Think of where it can lead you from here.

And as your pain is slowly easing,

You can find a greater reason to live your life triumphant through the tears.

 

Amen!

Logos Community Church:- 2 September 2012