What drives our belief in God?
Last week in “Don’t let go your faith!” we discussed the pressures in our society that cause us to question our personal beliefs. We look at the events and circumstances in this world and wonder, where is God?
As we view the world around us, we develop personal views on how it should operate. In our humanity, we begin to question whether we are connected to the correct Source to address the challenges of 21st century living. Is God the right choice? Are our “faith expectations” realistic? Such was the question presented to Jesus by two disciples of John the Baptist.
Is Jesus the right one?
Recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, the writers share a meeting between John the Baptist’s disciples and Jesus.
And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
Is this the same question we ask as we see the tragedies and sorrows of the 21st century?
What did John expect?
John had been placed into prison because he spoke against Herod the tetrarch’s immoral and unlawful relationship with his brother’s wife (Matt. 14:3-4). When John heard of all Jesus was doing, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Promised Messiah. The words, “the One who was to come” are a messianic title based on Psalm 40:7 and Psalm 118: 26.
What was John’s expectation? John must have thought, “If I am the Messiah’s forerunner and Jesus is the Messiah, why am I in prison?” John expected the Messiah to overcome wickedness, judge sin, and bring in his Kingdom. He needed reassurance and clarification.
Is this not the same response we have when things in our life begin to unravel? What are our expectations of Jesus? We thought we were doing what God wanted us to do and look at where we find ourselves. Do we expect a life better than what we are experiencing? We need reassurance and clarification, too.
Jesus did not answer John’s question with a direct yes or no. Instead, Jesus told John’s disciples to go back and report what they had heard and seen. In the Luke account, Jesus doesn’t immediately answer their question. Instead, Jesus “cured many infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind Jesus gave sight”. (Luke 7:21)
Jesus’ response to the disciple’s query were not a list of His works and accomplishments. Instead, they were validation that He was the Messiah as prophesized by the Prophet Isaiah (Isa. 35:5-6; 61:1). JESUS WAS THE ONE!
No offense but a blessing
John had expectations about the Messiah and the work He would do. While he needed reassurance and clarification, John received more than he initially expected. He received “unquestionable validation”.
Jesus closes with the following statement, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matt. 11:6). “Offended” (skandalizo) in Greek means “to find occasion for falling or stumbling”. There is a connection here to the English term “scandalize”. Jesus is subtly warning not to give up belief because He doesn’t immediately meet a person’s expectations.
We can extend this warning to believers today who may be at risk of falling way from our belief and faith in Christ. We have no reason to be offended by Christ: His person, His life, or His work. The problems of the world are not a result of weakness or impotency of God. It is because of the fallenness of this world under the sway of Satan (1 John 5:19) and man’s bentness toward sin (Jer. 17:9). Let us not be deterred nor discouraged from continuing to embrace our Sovereign God and trust in the works of His hands.
What are our expectations of God? Do we expect Him to solve all the problems we are witnessing during these difficult times? Why doesn’t God defend and save the oppressed? Is Jesus the One for 21st century living? Next week we will discuss these questions and how we might solidify our confidence in knowing that “Jesus is still the One!”