How many times have you heard it said, or you have said, or implied? “Jesus is the answer.” These days many of us say – then why do I doubt? It’s ok. We are in good company. The bible is filled with doubters. One of the greatest doubters was John the Baptizer.
1When Jesus finished placing this charge before his twelve disciples, he went on to teach and preach in their villages.
2-3John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, "Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?" 4-6Jesus told them, "Go back and tell John what's going on: The blind see, The lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, The deaf hear, The dead are raised, The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. (The Message)
For most of his life John had things figured out. He reminds me of those successful people who are interviewed and asked when they knew that they wanted to be a gymnast, or a doctor and they answer when I was 3 or 4.
Before John was born the Old Testament talked about him being the one who would prepare Christ’s way; the first Christian marketing campaign. He was born to do one thing: to tell the world that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah.
No Doubt. No room for questioning.
There was right and there was wrong. If John doubted and he was great – there is lots of room for you and me to doubt. We want to go back to a time when we knew less but were surer of what we knew. Those pre-Covid days when we felt safe and confident.
Where do we go from here?
Doubt causes us to ask God honest questions
“Are you the one?” John asks Christ. That is A Great Question.
Doubt encourages us to re-examine our belief in God
John is in prison and life looks a whole lot different from before. "We do not see things as they are but as we are." (Jewish Proverb) Perhaps now is the time to reexamine your belief and relationship with God.
Your doubts about God do not change God’s acceptance of you
Christ was not offended by John’s honest doubting. In fact, Christ affirms John in his doubt. He encourages him.
Doubt demands a response
John had to be satisfied for himself that Jesus was the Messiah. He had to hear from Christ personally. I believe we all do .
Isolation feeds Doubt
God’s bond with us is personal and communal. John’s isolation and imprisonment fed his doubt. He would not have had those questions if he had been free and with supportive community. He needed others to help him with his questions. We can only know God fully when we are both in personal relationship with Him and in relationship through Christian community. "Let him who cannot be alone beware of community . . . let him who is not in community beware of being alone." (Bon Hoeffer)
In response to John’s question "Are you the One we've been expecting?" Christ’s answer is yes. John dies in prison, losing his head. But he died without a doubt.
An Honest Hope
My desire and my dreams
Lose their lustre in the dark,
Still, I continue on, hoping that You,
My Father, have the master plan.
The great charge, to live by faith,
Faces opposition against realities,
Pressing against the gates of daybreak.
And still, having no answers,
Somewhere in the recess of my soul,
A faint hope fights with
Opposing doubts and fears.
Fear, by far the greatest of my fears,
Is that this hope which struggles?
To survive has no basis in You,
But is merely an illegitimate desire,
Born to a mind with selfish motives.
Tell me, Father,
Will You speak clearly to my spirit?
Or do I continue on,
Balancing hope against circumstance,
Praying that this haphazard measuring
Weighs my decisions in Your favour.
And so, Father,
Despite the real prospect of dishonest motives
In my desires and dreams, let this one hope
Be free of the clutter of my confused soul.
Dear Father, when first light comes,
I hope You care about me.