Encountering the Real Jesus: Uncertainty

Keith Chandler, Journey Christian Church

Today’s article is for anyone who has ever had doubts.

I’ve found (for the most part) when you’re not sure about God it’s usually not an intellectual thing. When we are unsure about God, it’s usually a circumstantial thing. There are certain circumstances in your life that just don’t make sense. Something happens that rocks your world and your faith.

A little background will help us understand what is going on. Herod the Great was the King of Israel when Jesus was born. He’s the one who tried to have Jesus killed as a child. In the process of trying to kill Jesus, he killed all of the baby boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem. He was so paranoid that someone would take over his thrown he murdered two of his wives, three of his sons, and his mother-in-law. Some of you may have THOUGHT about killing your mother-in-law, but he actually did it!

He was so evil that when he was close to death, he had his soldiers round up the most elite citizens of Israel, took them to Jericho, and held them there and he gave the order that on the day he died they were to execute them so there would be weeping and mourning on the day that he died. But instead of killing all these citizens, they released them all and there was a huge party in the streets.

Herod had a bunch of sons. Let me just tell you about three of them. Herod Aristobulus was the son of Herod’s favorite wife. This is the wife he had killed. Herod Antipas became king over Galilee. And then there’s another son by the name of Herod Phillip.

Herod Aristobulus had a daughter named Herodias. She is gonna be a key figure in our story. Phillip married Herodias (so he married his niece).

One day, Herod Antipas visited his brother, Herod Phillip, and HE fell in love with his brother’s wife, who happened to be HIS niece too. Herod finally convinced her to leave her husband Phillip and marry him. You thought your family was dysfunctional?

John the Baptist started to preach against Herodias, so she convinced Herod to have John the Baptist arrested and thrown into prison. Calling two of them (two of John’s disciples), he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Luke 7:18-19

At this point John has been in prison for about ten months. He’s starting to have doubts. Is Jesus really the Messiah or have I wasted my life? He knows he’s probably gonna die and he’s having second thoughts at this point.

Isn’t it interesting that when our circumstances change for the good or for the bad, it impacts our confidence in God? Let me touch on something here. I think there is something self-centered in us in losing our faith when our circumstances go bad. Because when a tragedy strikes or there are terrorist attacks or hurricanes, we pray for those people, we give money to them. But it doesn’t shatter our faith in God (it doesn’t affect us). You see:

When you go through a hard time, I pray.
When I go through a hard time, I doubt.

When I am having a hard time, I want God to either change the circumstance, or explain what he’s doing, that everything is going to be okay.

Verse 20: “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 7:20

Jesus doesn’t say, “Of course I’m the one. Tell him I’m the one.”

He doesn’t say, “Tell John we are getting him out of prison tonight.”

He doesn’t even say, “Tell John that there’s a REASON that he’s been arrested.”

Jesus doesn’t answer their question.

Verse 21: “At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.’” – Luke 7:21-22

He says, “You go back and tell John what you have seen and what you have heard. Then in verse 23 he says, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

This word stumble could also be translated “take offense.” This is where we get our word “scandal” from. Jesus can be offensive. Jesus can be scandalous because he might allow circumstances in your life that you do not like and NOT intervene when you think that he should.

Jesus says, “Tell John, blessed is anyone who does not stumble away from me, because of something that you thought I SHOULD have done.”

In verse 28, Jesus says, “I tell you, among those born of women (that would be EVERYONE) there is no one greater than John, yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” – Luke 7:28

Jesus says out of everybody who has been born, there is nobody who is greater than John. And he’s struggling with God and his circumstances do not change. I think this is good news for us. I think this is so helpful for you and me, because here’s the greatest man who has ever walked the face of the Earth, and he had doubts.

John is this great man and God did not change his circumstances. So what do we do with our doubts? I think if we were to ask Jesus the same thing, I think Jesus would give us the same advice.

You look back and you look beyond.

You look back at what God has brought you through.

How he has answered prayers, you look back at how God came through at just the right time. If you’re going through difficult circumstances right now,

#1. Look for God’s hand working in your life.
Because we tend to miss God working if we’re not looking for it (but God is working).
Look for it in those circumstances in this moment.

#2. Write it down.
You need to write it down because we tend to forget how God has come through.

Make it habit to write down where God is working in your life. Write down the things you’re worried about and the lessons God is teaching. Write down the things you’re consumed with. Write down your prayers.

“God, why haven’t you? Why don’t you?”

Write down a verse you read in the Bible.

The reason you write these things down is because you can look back and see God’s hand working in your life. You look beyond your present circumstances.

All of us have these prison cell experiences. You’re trying to find God in your circumstances and you have to look outside those prison walls. God will get you through this. You look beyond your current circumstances. You look back at God’s faithfulness and you look beyond your present circumstances.

John was beheaded and it had NOTHING to do with how God felt about him.

God didn’t change the circumstances. Your circumstances do not reflect how God feels about you. Proof about how God feels about you happened on the cross.

So the question for all of us is not IF we’re going to doubt (because we’re going to doubt). The question is, “What are we going to do with our doubts?”

You begin to look around, where is God working? What is he doing? You look back at answered prayers, you look back at how God intervened, you look back at God’s faithfulness, and you look beyond your present circumstances and you will find your faith.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

He doesn’t say give thanks FOR all circumstances—that would be hard to be thankful for the cancer. You give thanks IN all circumstances.

You want to know what God’s will is for you? How many times do we say, “God, just tell me your will.”

You want to know what God’s will is for you?

Give thanks—in ALL circumstances.

Many of us have doubts and uncertainties in their lives. Don’t allow those doubts and uncertainties from keeping you from taking a step toward Jesus.

Until next month,
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