C. S. Lewis is one of the greatest Christian authors of all time. Rudy Ross calls him the “Einstein of modern Christianity.”
Lewis married late in life, and after a short period time his wife died from cancer.
Her death thrust Lewis into a crisis of faith and he began to doubt the very message he had written about for years.
I am comforted by Lewis’ experience, because he shows us that faith and doubt can exist in the lives of very spiritual people.
We will read in tomorrow’s article that Jesus considered John the Baptist the greatest man alive (Luke 7.28).
In spite of John’s connection with the Holy Spirit and his history with Jesus, there remained questions to be answered in his mind.
John Sent Disciples to Jesus
Luke records how John sent some of his students to meet with Jesus.
— Luke 7.18-20 – The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples
And sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’”
Like C. S. Lewis, John was a friend of God’s purposes on earth. If he had questions, they are worth considering.
One of the issues we must confront when attempting to understand God’s activity is that of our own perceptions. Our perceptions of how God must act may lead to misconception.
Apparently, that was the case with John. Two issues caused him to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah or not.
(1) Early in his ministry, Jesus received significant opposition from God’s people.
Imagine how hard it would be to go against the current of opinion, if the leading pastors and teachers of our country denounced the activity of another Christian leader.
The authorities were definitely against Jesus. They were able to quote Bible passages and tradition to back up their opposition.
Even though John knew Jesus well and was in tune with the work of the Holy Spirit, mountains of opposition to Jesus apparently took their toll on his faith.
(2) Possibly, a bigger issue for John was that Jesus didn’t seem to look like a Messiah.
The Messiah or Christ is an anointed king. Both John and Jesus proclaimed the arrival of the kingdom of God.
What did Jesus have to show for the rule of his government?
— He had a small number of close followers (disciples).
— The majority of his followers came from the margins of society.
— Rome continued to oppress the people.
— Harsh living conditions remained in Israel.
These issues and more were certain to weigh on John, as he sought to know if he should look for someone else to assume the role of Messiah.
Learning from John and Lewis
We have a lot to learn from John the Baptist and C. S. Lewis. Here are a couple of thoughts I have received from them.
(1) If dedicated followers of the Lord can have doubts, it is okay for me to have them too.
Doubts mean that we take faith seriously. If we keep on walking with God in the face of our doubts, as did John and Lewis, God will certainly demonstrate his faithfulness to us.
(2) Perceptions that are held too tightly can lead to misconception.
The Hebrew world of the first century had a particular belief in the Messiah. They were so committed to their belief that they ended up turning against the very Messiah they had hoped for.
Even John had to wrestle with this issue.
We will be wise to hold lightly to our belief in how God “must” act.
(3) People like John and C. S. Lewis ask questions that reveal identity of Jesus.
The transparent way the Lewis wrote about his doubts has helped millions who have been in the same situation.
John’s question prepared the way to reveal the true identity of Jesus.
Jesus Answers John
Jesus didn’t condemn John for his question. He answered it and helped him understand the true identity of the Messiah.
— Luke 7.21-23 – Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind.
And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.
“And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus answered John with allusions to the prophesy of Isaiah. The Messiah was to be a healer and a good news preacher to the poor.
The poor included those on the margins of society. They were like the widow of Nain, who without Jesus’ intervention would have been dependent on the charity of her community.
The poor were lepers and demonized persons, who were freed from illness and returned to their families and friends.
They were rich tax collectors and the centurion. They had plenty of material resources, but needed Jesus as much as anyone else.
Jesus brought good news through his actions and teaching to all of these and many more.
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily YouTube video that corresponds to the blog articles. Rudy is a Jewish follower of Jesus and an excellent Bible student. You will be enriched by his thoughts as we talk about this passage.
The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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