Doubt is part of the human condition. Doubt is not the absence of faith. Even those who walked with Jesus had doubts. The good news is, they were not condemned because of their doubt.
John the Baptist in Prison
The most famous doubter was Doubting Thomas. When Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of the resurrection, Thomas what with. Though Jesus gave convincing proofs to the others that he was alive, when they reported the news to Thomas, he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
The next week Jesus made an appearance just for the sake of Thomas. At this second appearing, Jesus took up Thomas’ concerns and told him:
“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
John. 20:27 NIV
Thomas, without touching Jesus or asking any further questions, declared: “My Lord and my God!”
You can read about Thomas HERE….
But Jesus has other doubters, and one in particular, was closer to him than even Thomas.
John the Baptist’s Doubts
Jesus’ cousin was John the Baptist. John’s ministry was crucial to the start of Jesus’ ministry. When Jesus went to John to be baptized in the Jordan River, John said to him:
“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Matthew 3:14 NIV
One day, while Jesus was still in the area of the Jordan river, John saw him from a distance and said to those around him:
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
John 1:29-31 NIV
John was eventually thrown into prison for his preaching. He offended the King of Judea, and even more so Herod’s wife Herodias. Herod was intrigued by John, but Herodias wanted him dead. Herodias eventually had her way.
While John was in prison awaiting his fate, he sent messengers to Jesus. Through the messengers he asked:
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Matthew 11:3 NIV
John, who initially had such conviction about who Jesus was, seems to be filled with doubt at this point.
Jesus was as gracious to John as he was to Thomas. He sent back word through the messengers to John that he was indeed the one who they were expecting. These are the proofs Jesus offers John:
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 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”
Matthew 11:4-5 NIV
The Blind See
Jesus healed the blind by touching their eyes, but he also heals our spiritual blindness by allowing us to see the fullness of God within Him.
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
The Lame Walk
Jesus commanded a man who was paralyzed to take up his mat and return home. The man was immediately healed and the crowd who witnessed his restoration was amazed.
Jesus restores us to be able to follow him. He has a pilgrim’s path for us to walk. The earlier Christians were called Followers of the Way. Jesus heals our crippled hearts so that we might follow him on the path of righteousness!
Leprosy is Cleansed
Jesus healed leprosy by touching a man with this horrible disease. To touch a leper was to take on his infirmity. It was seen as a contagious condition, one that separates a person from God.
Jesus came to take on our diseases. He took up our infirmities and he bore our sin on the cross.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV
The Deaf Hear
Jesus took a man who could not hear or speak, placed his fingers in his ears and touched the man’s tongue, and commanded them to be OPENED. From that moment on the man could both hear and speak. We can only imagine the praise the formerly deaf and mute man gave God!
Jesus opens our ears to be able to hear from God:
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Romans 10:17 NIV
The Dead Are Raised
Prior to the time of John’s imprisonment Jesus had already raised one person back to life. He would raise others.
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
John 5:24-26 NIV
Our hope today is in the Resurrection. God has something more in store for us that we can even imagine!
Here are a few of the blog posts I’ve written recently on Resurrection if you need a refresher course:
The Good News is Preached to the Poor
The first sermon Jesus preached was from Isaiah 61 because he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV
Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah!
And just as John praised and exalted Jesus after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus praised John in the hearing off all who were around him. Jesus did not condemn John for his doubt. He identified John as one of the greatest figures in salvation history, raising him up to the level of the greatest prophet in the Old Testament, Elijah. Here are Jesus’ words about John:
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.
Matthew 11:7-14 NIV
When you doubt, don’t despair. If John the Baptist, and the disciple Thomas suffered occasional bouts of doubt, so will we.
When we doubt, let’s remember the prayer of the man whose son was healed by Jesus:
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark. 9:24 NIV
Be Sure To Subscribe…