Jesus Deals with Doubt

Faith that Transforms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:26
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Faithful proclamation of Jesus' kingdom brings honor, even if the witness doubts from time to time.

Have you ever “over-thought” a situation? Talked yourself out of a good idea?
As we move into a new year, I’m sure more than one of us has done some re-organizing of furniture or pantry items. Our refrigerator at the parsonage has adjustable shelves. After a thorough cleaning I chose to try a different configuration of the shelves and drawers. This way is better for wide dishes, but the previous was better for tall items. The more I use it, the more I think it was better the way it was.
A refrigerator is a relatively meaningless debacle, but doubt can play havoc on many other beliefs and practices. Certain food and beverage is considered by some to be healthy and others to be unhealthy. Financial strategies have short or long-term implications. And doubts about faith have become so frequent and public that a new title has been coined by journalists—exvangelical. A quick google search of that phrase generated nearly 45,000 hits. There is even a Facebook group for Exvangelicals with 8.7K followers.

Confusion & Confirmation of Christ’s Authority (vv.18-23)

Different style and Different roles (vv.33-34)

1. John was ascetic, Jesus feasted.
2. John was Nazirite, Jesus first miracle involved wine.
John was “cheerleader”, Jesus was “on the field”. There are plenty of reasons that fans go to Ireland Field on Fall Friday evenings. Some enjoy the pepband. Some have daughters on the Cheer and Dance squads. Some go to visit with neighbors, but NONE of that happens if there are not players on the field.
3. I’m sure John had received news of the events in Luke 4 where Jesus read from Isaiah’s scroll and quoted Ps 146:7-8.
Psalm 146:7–8 ESV:2016
7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
4. I’m sure John was thinking “Am I not oppressed? Am I not hungry? Am I not a prisoner? Am I not righteous? What about me?
5. Jesus, are you actually going to do what you said you had come to do?

Messianic Fulfillment (v.22)

1. John was in prison so “set free the captives” had a specific application in his mind.
2. Jesus’ ministry has a broader context. A Genesis-Revelation deliverance. Jesus identifies himself with “end times” prophecies by Isaiah in 35:5-6 and 61:1-2 [a connection he made back in Luke 4:21.]
3. “set his people free” is bigger than Roman prisoners. It is bigger than Jewish oppression. Jesus’ people have been bound and cursed since Genesis 3, and they won’t be fully set free until Revelation 22.

Flexible Expectations (v.23)

1. V.23 basically means “Don’t get tripped up in your preconceived ideas”.
Have any of you ever experienced buyers’ remorse?
· You buy or build your dreamhouse, then you discover that drip.
· You finally get that automobile with feature x, then 6 months later option x.2 comes out.
· You get that brand new model of phone, then find out you don’t get any signal at church?
Luke 7:22 ESV:2016
22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
2. If these 6 types of people are blessed, are you going to allow your imprisonment to make you doubt?
· James and John got a little full of themselves and Jesus had to correct their assumptions about greatest in the kingdom and the seating arrangements.
· Peter had to learn sword decorum in John 18:10-11
Transition: If Jesus’ inner-3 still had confusion about the Messiah’s kingdom after spending years in Jesus’ presence, I can cut John a little slack in his confusion early in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus moves quickly from confusion to…

Commendation of a Faithful Witness (vv.24-30)

A Herald, Not Messiah

1. John was more “than a reed” (v.24-25)
· Some believe this is a literal reed – people would travel to the countryside/wilderness for the plant life. Most see a reference to the character of John – someone with strength and rigidity, not easily moved.
2. John was NOT the Messiah, yet his role was significant. (v.26-28a quotes Ex 23:20 & Mal 3 :1)
3. As one announcing the arrival of Messiah’s kingdom, he exceeds the great Jewish heroes Moses, David & Elijah!
Who is the GOAT? MJ or LeBron? Some think this year’s NFL MVP wears Green/Gold others think he wears Red/White. How can anyone compare one era to another? Leather helmets to those with wireless transmitters? Wooden and Aluminum bats? Golf clubs and Tennis rackets made of space-age materials.
4. John was not the GOAT, he was the current record-holder and MVP of that season, and yet each of us can be chosen to the Hall of Fame if we are faithful messengers of the Kingdom.
5. The age of promise has given way to the age of fulfillment.
6. John who was the greatest in the age of promise because he could look over the line into the age of fulfillment, but all of us who look back at Christ’s fulfillment of the law and the righteous demands of the atonement can now stand with confidence to invite others into the kingdom.

Suspense & Expectancy

1. The phrase “shall we look for another?” contains a unique word that appears 16 times in the New Testament.
2. The words “look for” hint that this is more than casual observation. It is embedded with the idea of suspense or longing expectation.
A couple in the 38-42 week of pregnancy hold on to an expectation that influences their entire lives. What they eat, how they sleep, where they travel, what activities they choose.
When gifts began to appear under your tree, an expectation became more pronounced. Who is that one for? I wonder what is in this one? Can we open one early?
Here, we tried to capture this anticipation as we lit additional candles in the Advent wreath each week of the last month.


1. We (like John) are commended when we anticipate the Kingdom.
2. We (like John) are commended when we announce the Kingdom.
Transition: Before Jesus concludes this interaction, He turns to the crowd, takes the spotlight off of John and says, “What about you?” by pronouncing…

Condemnation of Presumptuous Faultfinders (vv.31-35)

There is No pleasing some people

1. The passage concludes with a parable that seems difficult at first, but then we realize it is quite common.
Any parents here ever try to console a bored child? No matter what you suggest, the clingy, whiny child refuses to try it! I don’t want to go outside, I don’t want to color, I don’t want to read a book. I don’t want to ride my bike, etc.
2. Imagine a group of children playing in the park, and they invite a new kid to join them, but the new kid refuses, no matter what the others try. The kids try a fun activity and the new kid doesn’t want to run. The kids try a thinking game and the new kid refuses to join.
Is there anything more awkward than a middle school mixer? If the DJ tries energetic music the boys gather on one side and the girls gather on the other too self-conscious to go on the dance floor. If the DJ moves to a slow song, the youngsters are too embarrassed to touch the others while people are watching.
3. If God sends a prophet who calls you to repent (Like John) the crowds flocked to the desert, but religious experts were unwilling to admit they had anything to repent of.
4. If God sends Messiah Jesus who modeled grace in every possible way, the religious experts complained that He associated with their undesirables.
5. Jesus likens this generation to a group that always finds fault with others, but never admits their own need for repentance and Grace.

Wisdom’s Children (v.35)

1. To understand v.35 one has to understand the first century Jewish mindset. To educated Greeks the highest ideal was the precision of words, hence Jesus is likened unto the Word in Jn 1. To the traditional Jews the highest ideal was cohesive purpose. The Mind of God was revealed in His plan, His purpose, or His wisdom. God’s plan for His people connects the scrolls of Genesis to Malachi.
2. Luke is stressing that Christ followers put Christ’s wisdom into practice and by their faithful lives prove it right to the world.
3. The fallen woman in the next episode is one of the “children of wisdom,” showing in her gratefulness the radical change that wisdom has made in her life.[i]


When you live according to the plan of God, you experience true blessing and prove to the world that God’s way is the best way.
Next week, Lord Willing, we will look at the rest of this chapter to see what a difference happens when we choose to receive God’s grace and live by His wisdom.
But before we conclude I have to ask you, Are you confused about who Jesus is? Are you like John, asking “Is Jesus the Messiah?” Or have you come to the point in your life when you, unlike the presumptuous faultfinders, have admitted your sin, believed in Christ’s death & resurrection as payment for your sin and Confessed Him as Lord?
If you’ve never made this admission, today can be your day of salvation!
Maybe you are convinced, and you’ve passed out of condemnation, but the middle part of the sermon spoke to your heart. Is the Holy Spirit calling you to be a more Faithful Witness? Is there someone whom God’s Spirit is laying upon your heart that you need to tell the Good News?
I encourage you to make a specific, measurable goal this week to have a gospel conversation with that person. Write down his or her name, and when you find this listening guide next week grade yourself as to if you did your best to ask him/her about salvation.
Whether you are calling on the Grace of Jesus or Committing to speak of it this week, I’d like us to conclude by reprise the first verse of our Call to Worship song.
[i] Grant R. Osborne, Luke: Verse by Verse, ed. Jeffrey Reimer, Elliot Ritzema, and Danielle Thevenaz, Awa Sarah, Osborne New Testament Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018), 202.
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