Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Questioning God

"Now when John in prison heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" - Matthew 11:2-3

This verse came to mind last week when I received an e-mail from the missionary working in Kristina's orphanage. Apparently two families had come to adopt children from her class and this had caused her to feel conflicted and confused. She asked if we had forgotten about her and whether we would ever come for her. Hearing this information broke my heart. Why would she question us? Had she not spent the summer with us, bonding and identifying with us as her family? Have we not been faithful to write to her and constantly remind her of our love and commitment? I remembered these verses from Matthew 11 and began to wonder why John the Baptist would send this message to Jesus.

John was questioning what God was doing.When we are looking for God to do ONE thing, we often miss what else He is doing. John had certain expectations for the Messiah. He expected Christ to be the one who brought fierce judgement. Instead Christ preached forgiveness. John expected Jesus to strike down the wicked. Instead Christ raised the dead. John expected Christ to cripple the infidel. Instead he taught the lame to walk. Christ was carrying on a ministry of healing, not judgement. Is it possible for us to misunderstand God's agenda? Absolutely.

John was questioning where he had been.What would make John question what he himself had experienced? Was he not the one who had boldly declared in the first chapter of John:
  • "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (1:29)
  • "After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me."(1:30)
  • "I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him." (1:32)
  • "This is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ (1:33)
  • "And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." (1:34)

Many would say that John's questioning of Jesus wasn't a sign of wavering faith, but stop and consider where he was when he asked these things of the Lord. John had been languishing on death row for nearly two years. He would be less than human not to wonder in his heart if he had been mistaken.

John was questioning who he was in Christ.The man who was once the herald of the Light of the World now sat in darkness. The once great dynamo of preaching now sat in solitude without an audience. When we have been one thing in Christ, its very difficult for us to conceive of being something different in Him. A change in circumstance doesn't necessarily denote a change in status. God often allows us to be brought low, even at the hands of the enemy or those who would unjustly wrong us. This isn't a reflection of error in our own lives as much as it is an opportunity for God to be glorified. Christ goes on in chapter 11 of the book of Matthew to remind the crowd that there has not been one born of woman greater than John the Baptist (v 11). Christ equates John with Elijah and announces that John was more than a prophet. Never let us forget our place in the body of Christ. Understanding those small details gives us a clearer understanding of the big picture.

Why does Kristina wait in an orphanage thousands of miles away from the family who longs for her? So that Christ might be glorified.

Why have injustices and trials come into our lives this year? So that Christ might be glorified.

Spurgeon said, "Blessed is he who can be left in prison, can be silenced in his testimony, can seem to be deserted of his Lord, and yet can shut out every doubt."

"Blessed is he who is not offended because of me." - Matthew 11:6

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