An exposition of Matthew 11:1-19. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 18, 2010.
It is part of who we are. We can’t help it. We are by nature curious. Don’t you find yourself wondering and questioning things? I mean, why do people without a watch look at their wrist when they ask you what time it is? Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle? Questions, we wrestle with them everyday. Some are important, others are not so important. Some mold or alter our lives, while others have little or no lasting effect. This evening I want us to consider one of life’s vital questions. Webster defines vital as concerned with or necessary to the maintenance of life; something fundamentally concerned with or affecting life. I’m certain that we can agree that there are some questions that are of vital importance. I would suggest that life’s most vital question has to do with the Lord Jesus – is he indeed the Messiah? Is he the Savior? Is he who he claims to be?
We are going to look this evening at a crisis point in the life and ministry of John the Baptist. John found himself imprison for his faithfulness in declaring the truth of God. He had faithfully and consistently declared Jesus as the Messiah. As reports reached him about the ministry of Jesus, John came to a crisis of faith. Through John’s story we learn something about the response of the Lord Jesus to the questioning heart. We will consider John’s story is it is recorded in Matthew chapter 11.
Text: Matthew 11:1-19
There is that part of us that thinks faith eliminates all questions and struggles. Sometimes we get the idea that it is “wrong” to question or wonder why. But Christianity welcomes honest questioning. Truth always invites investigation. The Gospel is not afraid of someone asking too many questions. Faith does not eliminate doubt. In fact doubting is a tool for building faith!
Os Guinness has suggested there are two dangers to be avoided when dealing with doubt.
- Being too soft on doubt – never needing any kind of assurance.
- Being too hard on doubt – equating all doubt with unbelief.
Alister McGrath adds, “Faith isn’t a product of absolute certain knowledge. Faith is about being willing to live through trust in the existence and promises of God, knowing that one day his existence and those promises will be totally vindicated. But for the moment, we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Our text is fascinating to me given the background of John the Baptist. This is a remarkable question coming from this man. Yet it is a question that each of us must deal with. It is a matter of life and death. It is a “vital question” – a vital issue.
“Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?” “Are you the Christ? Are you the Messiah? Are you the long awaited Savior of the world?” This question is at the heart of the Christian faith. Mark it down. Underline it. Circle it in red.
Christianity is not primarily a teaching. It is not primarily a philosophy. Neither is it primarily a way of life. It is a relationship with the Sovereign God of heaven and earth, through the person of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the story of the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God left the glory and splendor of heaven and was born on this earth. His purpose in coming was to redeem fallen and broken humanity. He and He alone is the savior of the world and there is no heaven apart from Him. If that is true, then the most important question in this world is “What about Jesus of Nazareth?”
If He is who the Bible claims that He is, then there is no more important question. The question then before the house is – “What are you going to do with Jesus?” “How are you going to respond to Him?”
These are the issues/questions surrounding this snapshot out of the life and ministry of John the Baptist. From this story we learn something about the questioning heart and the search for assurance. In fact we discover that:
Thesis: The questioning heart finds assurance in the person of the Lord Jesus.
As this drama in the life of John unfolds before us we find three acts.
- Act One: A crisis of faith. (11:1-3)
- Act Two: A clear word. (11:4-6)
- Act Three: A comforting reassurance. (11:7-11a)
Have you ever struggled to believe? You are in good company. The questioning heart finds reassurance in the person of the Lord Jesus.