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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

“God’s Ever Flowing Stream”

Matthew 11:2-6

What’s happened to John the Baptist?  He was such a forceful preacher. He confronted the corrupt leadership of Jerusalem. He criticized the king. Now in prison John sends word to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  Is he kidding? This is the John who proclaimed the coming one who was more powerful than he, who would baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11-12). John had baptized this one, the one whose sandals he was not worthy to untie. John had heard the voice of God the Father from heaven saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved. with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

John was there. He had seen this with his own eyes. He had heard the voice from heaven with his own ears. How then could he ask such a question of Jesus? What has happened to him? John had taken a clear stand. He was following in the tradition of the prophets. He was prepared to speak truth to power. Yet the corrupt power is still there. Herod remains on the throne.  His marital and political entanglements with his rival brother still continue. John the Baptist is not seeing the results he had anticipated. In a word, he is doubting.

Tomorrow we as a nation we will be observing the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  King, like John, spoke truth to power. King, like John, opposed corrupt leaders and false religion. King, like John, was imprisoned for his efforts. King, like John, knew his life was threatened. King, like John, also had his doubts.

We ourselves have our doubts at times. Is Jesus really the one? Can we stake our lives, our hopes and our futures on him? Jesus doesn’t rebuke John for his doubts (as he does the disciples on occasion). Jesus’ message to John is, look at what is happening. The sick are healed. The dead are raised. The poor have good news brought to them. This is still going on. We can too easily be trapped in our own doubt. The fact is the more faithful we are, the more Satan will attack us, the more he will seek to plant doubt in our hearts. Yet the more we look at what Christ is doing in the world around us, the more we look beyond ourselves, the more we will see God at work.

John was killed unjustly. So was Martin Luther King. The cost of discipleship is high (Matt. 10:37-39). Yet it is through that cost that we experience the full power of God. The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John (Matt. 11:11). That means that we are empowered to do more not less. We should not fear our doubts. In fact, our doubts should send us closer to Jesus to experience his power.  God’s servants are given the grace to change not only themselves but the world itself. Thank God for that grace!

Loving and faithful God and Savior give me the grace to acknowledge my own doubts.  Draw me closer to yourself and empower me with your spirit.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.