Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 108 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 11 today and our focus is on What Causes Doubts + The Gentleness of Jesus We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Paris, France, Birmingham, United Kingdom, Rajasthan and Gujarat, India, Ontario, Canada, Dallas, Texas, Los Angeles, California, Birmingham, Alabama and Pueblo, Colorado. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
The last two weeks at our church, Valley Baptist in Salinas, California, we have been talking about doubt and faith. I suppose doubt is an odd topic on the surface, but the thing that triggered our message times the last two weeks is a very striking passage in the resurrection account from the gospel of Matthew:
16 The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Matthew 28:16-17
What an odd thing for Matthew to report! At this point in time, the disciples would have seen Jesus and talked to Him…I wonder why they are doubting? This does tell us at least two important things. #1 The Gospel accounts are quite authentic, not legendary, and not fabrications. If you are fabricating or hoaxing the resurrection, then why include these doubts? If Jesus has been legendized by later followers, as some claim, why include the doubts? It does not make sense unless it just happened that way, and Mathew is telling us the truth. #2 This demonstrates to us the universality of doubt and the fact that the disciples of Jesus were not particularly superstitious. They were not inclined to think that people could come back from the dead, and they wouldn’t be convinced otherwise without solid and sound evidence. And you know what? These skeptical disciples were convinced to a man, and died in their conviction.
Doubt is very common in the Bible and common in people. Abraham, Moses, King David, Sarah, Abraham, Paul, Peter, Jacob, and more biblical figures all doubted. That might surprise you…does it surprise you more that the greatest fully human being ever born, at least according to Jesus, experienced doubt? Yes, I am talking about John the Baptist. Jesus said that nobody greater than John the Baptist had ever been born. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him, John immediately knew that Jesus was the lamb of God – the messiah – who would take away the sins of the world. There was no doubt in John the Baptist’s mind at that point. Some time later, after the public ministry of Jesus had begun…John the Baptist begins to doubt. What changed? Did Jesus change? Did Jesus do something to make John doubt? Let’s read our passage and find out.
It turns out that Jesus didn’t change, but John’s circumstances changed. It is easy to confess Jesus as Lord when your ministry is at its apex, and you are famous throughout your country and people are looking up to you and coming to be baptized by you, isn’t it? We tend to not doubt too much when things are going our way. But doubts tend to rise up in us when OUR circumstances change, especially when they change for the negative. We know that people get sick, have wrecks, get injured, lose their jobs, die, etc. We see these difficult things in biblical characters, and we see them in the lives of our friends, families and acquaintances. Usually, this doesn’t make us doubt, but when we those bad things happen to us…then we become like John the Baptist – the doubts creep in! John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the Messiah, likely because he was in jail, and feeling terribly neglected. Jesus’ disciples, upon being hit by a terrible storm in their boat, and seeing Jesus blissfully asleep, ask Him: “Don’t you care that we are about to die?!” Of course Jesus cared, and of course Jesus was the Messiah. It just was shocking for the storm to be raging around the disciples and for John to find himself in jail, awaiting execution. The circumstances did not change who Jesus was, nor how much He cared…but the circumstances do change OUR perception of whether or not God cares…and this can cause doubt to come in.
How did Jesus answer the doubts of John the Baptist? He basically said: Look at me and look what I’m doing. The blind see, the dead are raised, they lame walk and the deaf hear. Don’t be offended by your circumstances, John – I am still Jesus, and I will save you. That is basically what Jesus was saying to John.
What do we do when we find ourselves doubting – especially when doubting because of bad or bitter circumstances in our lives? We also look to Jesus, setting our minds on things above, and dwelling in His teachings and His life. We must, as the author of Hebrews commands: set our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We should also remind ourselves that trials aren’t a surprise, as Peter reminds us:
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you, as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14
That’s not an easy teaching from the Word – I am often surprised by fiery trials…but, they aren’t unusual. Tribulation will come, says Jesus, but He has overcome the world, so we should take peace in Him. Why take peace in Him? Amongst hundreds of reasons, one sticks out in today’s reading:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
What a wonderful description of Jesus, the King of Kings. he is gentle. He is rest for the weary and weighed down. He is humble and lowly. His Lordship is not burdensome, but light. Though the trials might last for a night, the joy comes in the morning, and it will be eternal. Look to Jesus, dear friends, and let your doubts be quenched in the light of His glory, grace and gentleness!
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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