Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Crisis of Circumstance

Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?
(Matthew 11:3 – ESV)

The context of this passage is when the disciples of John the Baptist came to ask Jesus if He really was the Messiah. John had been in prison for perhaps as much as two years, and had obviously become depressed. His faith was in the crisis of circumstance. Jesus used His actions to demonstrate that He was indeed the One who was promised to come.

How could it be that John, who knew better than anybody who his cousin Jesus was, had fallen into doubt? John saw more signs than anyone ever. Consider the fact that John had been prophesied about as being the herald to the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3 / Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6), and he knew that this prophecy was about him (John 1:23). His parents knew that he was the herald of God (Luke 1:17, 76). John was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). John had leapt in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus (Luke 1:41). John was sent to live in the desert by God himself (Luke 1:80). He heard directly from the Almighty as a prophet (Luke 3:2 / John 1:6). Jesus said he was the greatest of the Old Testament saints (Matthew 11:11 / Luke 7:28). He knowingly said that he must decrease but Jesus the Christ must increase (John 3:26-30). John told about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Ghost (Luke 3:16). At Christ’s baptism he was at first unwilling to do it because he felt unworthy (Matthew 3:14). God told John that when he saw the Spirit descend upon a man, that this was the Messiah, the Son of God (John 1:33-34). He heard the voice from heaven declaring Jesus to be the Son of God (Mark 1:11). He proclaimed to the crowd that this was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).

John had known and truly trusted his whole life to Jesus being the Messiah. John was no weak minded, immature believer. Jesus said that John was not a reed shaken with the wind; that is, he was not tossed about by circumstance. He was a rock, he stood up to Herod and that is why he was imprisoned. He lived in the wilderness, not delicately, and had camel’s hair as clothing, not soft raiment. John the Baptist was used to and prepared for hard living, even the dungeon. All this and he still was able to reach a place of doubt. If he did, how can we be so sure that we never will doubt? Why would we think we are any better?

There are two main lessons to see here. One is that this story can bring us comfort and courage. When we are in a crisis of circumstance such as John, we can know that we aren’t the only ones who have ever doubted. We all go through it. We can realize that we are not failures in Christ, only failures in ourselves, and can reach out to Him for strength. The operative prayer should be, Lord I believe, help me with my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

Also know another lesson of John the Baptist: no matter what we have known, believed, and experienced, we cannot rely on our own strength. No sign or wonder is going to last. We cannot rest on the past; we must continue to stay close to God. If we become separated from Him through our negligence of the Word and prayer, and isolated from the fellowship of the saints, we will begin to let doubt have its way with us.

What we must do, as John did through his disciples, is to come to Christ and declare our need. When we are separated from Jesus, as John was, we become vulnerable to the fear and deception of the enemy. That is why we must stay close to Christ. Staying in the Word of God, reading, studying, and meditating upon it everyday keeps Him near. Fellowshipping with other believers is also an important key. Just as Jesus showed his power to John’s followers, Christ will demonstrate his power in our lives, and in other’s, with strength, faith, and answers if we will truly seek him and hold on in faith. Our faith may not be missing any doubt, but God can strengthen it when we rely on Him, and also see what He is doing through others.

When the lost see you living above your crisis of circumstance they are more likely to look toward God for their security. True saints begin to understand that it isn’t all about what is happening in their little world. They know that they don’t see the whole plan, and they trust in the sovereignty of God anyway. How about you?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

1 comment:

Even So... said...

I just rewrote and republished this one (2-24-07)...