The Doubts of John the Baptist I Luke 7 v 18 – 23

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Luke 7 v 19. “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

One of the most disturbing things in this part of the story is the doubt that John the Baptist expressed about Jesus. Yet Luke includes this in his narrative so that his friend, Theophilus, can see the problems that surrounded faith in Christ, and therefore Luke maintained the authenticity of his record.

In his public ministry John the Baptist, the last of Israel’s great prophets and a relative of Jesus, said amazing things about Jesus. You can read it for yourself in Luke 3 vs 1-20.

John said that Jesus was the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit and also that he would “burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”. That means that Jesus would dispense salvation and also exercise judgement.

At the time John sent his disciples to Jesus, he was himself in prison. Jesus told John’s disciples to tell him about the miracles, which the Old Testament prophets would have expected the Messiah to do. But what about the rest? What about evil rulers and oppressive governments? How could Jesus be the Messiah if he was merely giving individuals salvation and not at the same time dealing with political bigotry and even rescuing John from prison?

Many people today have similar problems. Some might say: “How can I believe in Jesus who seems only concerned with giving personal salvation to people, but does not address the great political, social and economic evils of the day?”

The Lord replied to John by illustrating that the prophecies of Isaiah 35 vs 3-5 and Isaiah 61 vs 1-3 were being fulfilled in him. This part of the program the prophets spoke about was being fulfilled. Now here’s the question! If he was fulfilling part of the prophecies now, would he not fulfill the other part later on?

The Day of the Lord will certainly come, but Messiah’s program now is to give as many individuals as possible an opportunity to be saved.

We may all feel frustrated at times when we see how many crooks and evil people seem to get away with things while the hope of personal salvation is continually pressed on people. The answer to this dilemma is in 2 Peter 3 vs 3-10 where we read that God is long-suffering – not wanting any to perish but rather to come to repentance. We often respond with impatience because the bad people seldom seem to come to repentance, and evil goes marching on in the world and we ourselves may have been on the receiving end of someone’s crookedness, perverseness, or evil. But Job described God as the “watcher of men” (Job 7 v 20). That is exactly who He is. He sees and knows all and in the end no one gets away with anything.

Remember if God took vengeance upon evil now you yourself may not have had the opportunity to repent, nor possibly would your loved ones.

Rather be patient. God is not mocked. He will repay. But for now let us rejoice that the hope of salvation is held out to all who respond to the message.

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