John: the Awesome Doubter

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom in is written,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears, listen!

“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Matthew 11:1-19

I’m always a little confused by John’s message to Jesus. Back in verse 3:14 John said, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?”, which I always thought meant he understood who Jesus is. But now he says, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” I think even John was surprised by the things Jesus was teaching. But I also think it’s easier to doubt the Messiah when He’s not right next to you. Let that be a warning to us all, because we’ve never seen Jesus in the flesh even once! It’s SO easy for us to doubt!

And how does Jesus appease John’s doubts? “Look at the fruits of my labor.” How can we look at Jesus’s works and not believe? Why would he choose to die for us if He wasn’t the Savior? We can keep our faith strong by remember His fruits and His love for us.

I also love that Jesus says that even though John the Baptist is the greatest man who ever lived, we will ALL be greater than him in Heaven! Because we have the Holy Spirit in us! We are so blessed!

Jesus’s lament makes me laugh a little, because as a teacher I understand it very well. He says, “John fasted, and you called him a demon. I feast, and you call me a glutton. What do you want from us?!” The answer, of course, is that it will always be impossible to please non-believers. So we should stop trying! As I think Jesus meant by “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds”: We don’t’ need their approval to do the right thing and be Christ-like. The only person we need to worry about pleasing is God.

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One Response to John: the Awesome Doubter

  1. Pingback: John vs. the Pharisees | Understanding the New Testament

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