June 19, 2016
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When faithful question faith
According to Jesus, John the Baptist was the greatest human who ever lived!
- “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).
He was filled with the Holy Spirit—even before his birth (Luke 1:15).
He lived a disciplined life.
“He will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks” (Luke 1:15).
He preached that Jesus was the Messiah.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel” (John 1:29-31).
He saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus; heard the Father call Jesus his Son.
Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God” (John 1:32-34).
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:16-17).
That’s quite a righteous resume! But look at this passage from Luke:
John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” (Luke 7:20).
What?! Despite being filled with the Spirit, plus seeing and hearing proof of Jesus’ divinity, and preaching that Jesus is the Messiah, John questions everything!
John was in prison for preaching against Herod’s affair with his sister-in-law, Herodias, whom he had then married. Herod, the Roman leader over Judea, was notorious for having prominent members of his family, including second wife, Mariamne I, executed for treason. He was so despised that Josephus reports Herod commanded a large group of distinguished men to come to Jericho, and he gave an order that they should be killed at the time of his death so his death would bring grief to his subjects. With Herod’s history, John surely felt his imprisonment would lead to death.
I’m not sure what caused these serious questions. (Trials and tragedies are often the catalysts for questions.) I am sure that it’s perfectly normal to occasionally question my faith. If someone Jesus esteemed as “none greater” had questions, then I am not such a heathen for my doubts and questions. Good to know!
Copyright © 2016 James N. Watkins
Unanswered prayer, unfufilled promises, unpunished evil
Have you ever struggled with the questions of unanswered prayer, unpunished evil, and unfulfilled promises? If so, you’re in good company! Three thousand years ago, the psalmist Asaph struggled with those very questions. He poetically—and honestly—revealed his own dark doubts, crippling confusion and constant questions.
But the psalms of Asaph, provide some clues for dealing with these questions. Notice, I wrote “clues.” The Bible—and this book in particular—are not “answer books.”
Read my sample Introduction for my book proposal for Three Questions: Unanswered Prayer. Unpunished Evil. Unfulfilled Promises..
But wait. There’s more!
Cartoon of the week
Quips and quotations on questions
There are many things that I don’t understand. Billy Graham
A god that can be understood is not a god. Somerset Maugham
Trying to comprehend God and His ways is like algae trying to pass an algebra exam! JNW
My faith does not rest on God’s promises. My faith rests upon God’s character. Faith must rest in confidence upon the One who made the promises. A. W. Tozer
Faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse. Philip Yancey
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul (Romans 15:13)
Doubts are the ants in the pants that keep faith moving. Fredrick Beuchner
Read more quotations of hope and humor at Why? Over 1,000 Quotations on Life’s Most Difficult Questions.
Photos from MorgueFile.com
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