December 13-15, 2019
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 11:2-6
“IS IT ALL REALLY TRUE?”
Matthew 11:2-6 (EHV) “While John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ was doing. He sent two of his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go, report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the one who does not take offense at me.”
Has something like this ever happened to you? You have a loved one coming in on a flight. You check the airline to make sure it is on time. You head to the airport and wait as close as you can get to where the people come out of the terminal. The Arrival Board says that plane has arrived. You see the lines of people coming down the walkway, but not yours. You note the business flyers and the leisure flyers. You see the people walking quickly and chuckle because you know they are just going to have to wait at baggage. You see the people who move a little more slowly but don’t see the one you are waiting for. The trickle ends. No one. You had asked the last group what flight they were on. Yup, 1514 from Timbucktoo. You text. No answer. How are you feeling? Now you just have been waiting really for 15 or 20 minutes but anxiety sets in. Flight mix up? Something happen? Fear and doubt set in when you wait and things don’t happen the way you expect them to.
That’s what happened to John the Baptist. If Topps made Bible trading cards a signed John the Baptist would have to be at the top of the list. Listen to what Jesus said about John, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” And then remember this description of John the Baptist from the angel Gabriel in the pre Christmas story? “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” John was filled with the Spirit and it showed. Out in the desert. Wearing a cloak of camel’s hair. Eating locusts and wild honey. He didn’t care what people thought. He prepared people for Jesus. He called them to repentance. There was no PC mouth on this guy. He’d look you in the eye and call you a brood of vipers. And then Jesus came by. John pointed to Him. “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” By the Spirit John knew Jesus was the Messiah. It must have been fulfilling to see his life’s work come to coming to pass before his very eyes.
So John watched and waited as Jesus quietly taught people. He heard of Jesus doing miracles but seemingly not wanting the extra attention it gave. He watched and waited for something great to happen. John kept up the work of making ready a people prepared for the Lord. He had the same message for prince and pauper and eventually his non PC mouth (also known as a faithful to the Lord mouth) caused this. “But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this them all: He locked John up in prison.” (Luke 3:19-20) And John waited, eager to see what Jesus would do. And he waited and still the unjust imprisonment continued. He waited for Jesus to do what John expected Him to do as Messiah. Swing that ax at the root of the unrepentant people. Cut them down and throw them into the fire. Make it really hot for Herod! But that’s not what Jesus did. Jesus preached and taught. Sometimes big crowds. Sometimes just one person. Mostly the group of 12 guys. John waited and watched and you know what’s going to happen. Fear, doubt. Is it really true? Is Jesus really the Coming One, the Messiah?
Finally he had to do something about it. “While John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ was doing. He sent two of his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?” Doubt. Fear. Worry. Waiting will do that to you. Waiting when things aren’t happening the way you expect them to. I’m guessing the answer Jesus gave wasn’t quite what John the Baptist was expecting either. “Jesus answered them, “Go, report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the one who does not take offense at me.” Now I’m guessing what John wanted was, “Yes, I am. And don’t worry. I’ll take care or Herod.” That wasn’t how Jesus answered. Did you pick out how he did? Basically Jesus said, “Go back to God’s Word, John. What does it say?” John knew the prophecy of Isaiah you heard today. He knew it told of what Messiah, the Coming one would do. “Strengthen the weak hands, and make the shaky knees steady. 4 Tell those who have a fearful heart: Be strong. Do not be afraid. Look! Your God will come with vengeance. With God’s own retribution, he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unplugged. 6 The crippled will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy.” “If you want to know it’s all true, John, go back to the Word. God’s not asking for blind faith. He’s proven it to you. Careful prophecies. Prophecies you have seen me fulfill. Get your nose back in the Word John and you will see it’s all true.”
Can you relate at all? Now I don’t think it’s a stretch to say if they made Bible trading cards on us signed ones wouldn’t go for much. But we too are children of God and it also happens at certain points in our lives where we wonder, is this really all true? It might happen when you visit a zoo and see there are some ways that monkeys and people are alike. It may just strike you when you start thinking too hard or try to make God fit in your box. Is this really all true? It’s mostly likely to happen when you have a John the Baptist moment, stuck in the prison of a trial or heartache, waiting for God to make it right. Like when a child or spouse dies young. Like when things go wrong for those who stand up for what God says. Like when those faithful to Jesus continue to struggle economically and those who are not seem to roll in the dough. Is this really all true?
Then, like John, we may be looking for or expecting God to answer in a certain way. Some people might say God just says trust me. Recently Chris and I were doing some car shopping and I found one we really liked at a good price but there was a warning light on. I told the guy at the dealership, “It’s under warranty. If you get it fixed we can talk.” He called me later and said the dealership would sell it to me and then get it fixed under warranty. “You can trust us!” he said. God isn’t like that with us. Even though we have no right to expect it He proves Himself in His word. He doesn’t just say trust me but powers our trust through His word. Find if you can anything in the Bible that you can prove is untrue. It won’t happen. God’s word is truth. People accept all kinds of things as true in history about Julius Caesar, or Genghis Kahn, and there is only oral history, next to nothing of the time written down. Yet the Bible has lasted from its first books written in 1500 BC to its last one in 100AD and kept going to this very time. Look at how God loves you to give you Baptism as proof you are His child, to give you the Lord’s Supper as proof you are forgiven. You know, Jesus could have chastised John. What are you thinking? You have the Holy Spirit. How can you doubt? But He didn’t. He firmly but gently pointed John to the Word. You too, child of God. When you have your doubts or worries, when you get tired of waiting, your Lord knows your struggle. He firmly and gently points you back to the Word. Is it all really true? Yes it is.
Jesus’ last words in our text bear repeating. “Blessed is the one who does not take offense at me.” By take offense here Jesus means, stumble in your faith or trust. Blessed, means made happy, filled with joy. Do you want that? Get your nose in God’s Word because it’s all true. Amen.