Welcome to this Come to Jesus Daily Devotional, where we continue in our series: Luke Exploring Who Jesus is. Please share this devotional with anyone you think would find it helpful.
‘John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”’ (Luke 7:18-20)
Lesson: It’s important that we realise that we will all be tempted with doubt as the devil fires fiery darts at us when we are vulnerable. At times of doubt and temptation, it’s important to talk to people who can genuinely help.
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It seems impossible that John the Baptist could have doubts about Jesus. Earlier in this gospel we have read about His miraculous birth, his being filled with the Spirit in the womb and the great promises from God for His ministry and now He’s in a dark place of doubt. This is very sobering. None of us are beyond the temptation to doubt our faith. We can all wander off if we are not aware of our vulnerability. If John can doubt, you and I can doubt. Paul uses the example of unbelieving Israel to warn the Corinthians about being self-confident:
‘These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:11-13)
A person who never doubts is either lying, is mentally ‘unusual’, or has not had enough life experience. Suffering and the temptation to doubt comes to all of us and the devil loves to tempt us when we are vulnerable. John was in prison. Many Christians shout about victory and power and like the true Christian will be healthy, wealthy and well and, yes, will drive an expensive car! John the Baptist, the prophet of God, was in prison and will be martyred there! Earlier in Luke, John had said of Jesus,
‘“I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”’ (Luke 3:16)
Now, John is doubting If maybe He was wrong about Jesus. John had known that God had called him to ‘prepare the way for the Lord’ and that ‘All people will see God’s salvation’ and although John was the ‘way maker’ for Christ, he had clearly expected Jesus - the Messiah - to act more decisively against the enemies of God rather than heal their servants! Instead of power and victory, John’s faith and boldness had landed him with arrest and imprisonment. It’s hard for all of us when God doesn’t act as we had presumed! Joel Green writes:
‘Is Jesus the expected one, the Messiah? For John (and, no doubt, for others), the nature of Jesus’ activity seems to disqualify any claim he might have to this status. As Luke’s account goes on to demonstrate, however, this is due to misperceptions about messiahship, about how God’s eschatological visitation would be realised.’
It’s import that we realise that we will all be tempted with doubt as the devil fires fiery darts at us when we are vulnerable. At times of doubt and temptation, it’s important to talk to people who can genuinely help. Let’s notice in verse 18 that ‘John’s disciples told him about all these things.’ I think its safe to say that His disciples shared the accounts of the healing of the centurion’s servant and the raising of the widow’s son in order to encourage John; how can you be a good friend and seek to encourage those who are doubting? Secondly, we see that John ‘sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”’ If we are tempted to doubt have you spoken to Jesus about it? Have you got a friend or church leader that you could talk to about your struggles?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Please ensure that the members of your group are aware and familiar with using the daily devotionals.
How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. Worship together
Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.
4. Study and pray together
This week in our devotionals and in this CG study, we will be learning from the account of John's doubts and how we can deal with our, and help others with their, temptation to doubt Jesus.
Please read Luke 7:18-35 (We will be focussing on verses 18-21)
Note: Firstly, encourage the group to use the devotionals so as to cover more aspects of this text.
Why do you think that John is doubting his conviction about Jesus being the promised Messiah/Christ?
Have you ever experienced doubts in your faith?
If, like John, you, or someone you know is being tempted to doubt Jesus, what lessons does this text teach us about how to be restored in faith?
SIV - What does this text teach us about how we can help unbelievers or 'prodigals' to come to faith?
SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ this week?
SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.
Let's pray for one another our friends whom we know to be tempted to doubt or who have fallen away from faith.