Pastor Weise’s Sermon – Jesus Will Never Doubt You

Pastor Weise's Sermon - Wrestling with God

Pastor Weise’s Sermon – Jesus Will Never Doubt You

Isaiah 40.1-11/St. Matthew 11.2-11

Advent III/December 16, 2018

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd/Good Shepherd Community Chapel, Sauk Rapids, MN

Rev. Keith R. Weise, pastor/chaplain

LISTEN TO SERMON

Invocation    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

I          John the Baptist

starts his ministry with a bang.

 

He preaches out in the desert

not in

the comforts of the synagogue

or

the confines of the temple.

 

He wears clothes made out of camel hair

and he eats bugs and wild honey to survive.

 

He draws a crowd

and begins to baptize people

as they confess their sins.                                                               (St. Matthew 3.4-6)

 

II         And then he really starts to ruffle some feathers.

 

Some of the Pharisees and Sadducees

come out to see what’s going on—

and as soon as John sees them

he let’s loose with a sermon only a true prophet could preach—

[You] Brood of vipers! he says.  Who warned YOU to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and don’t think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.  And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.  Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.                                                                                                                           (St. Matthew 3.7-10)

 

If you want to see

“no-holds-barred

double-barrel” prophecy-

John the Baptist is your guy.

 

III       But he wasn’t just about shocking preaching

and preaching truth to power—

John was also about

something more

something greater.

 

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, he said, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.                                             (St. Matthew 3.11-12)

 

John doesn’t just preach repentance.

He preaches repentance—

AND THE COMING OF CHRIST!

 

And he preaches that Christ is greater than he is.

He must increase, but I must decrease, he says.                                                    (St. John 3.30)

 

So John began his ministry with a bang.

________________________________________________________________

 

IV        But what began with such a bang—

seems to end with a whimper.

 

In the Gospel today

we see John—

not out by the River Jordan

preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

No—today we see John

locked up in prison

for calling Herod to repentance for his adultery.

 

John’s ministry is all but done.

He seems depressed.

He seems almost defeated.

He seems almost consumed by doubt.

 

But in one last act—

an act

that is at the same time

the fulfillment of an old prophecy

and a new prophecy in itself

John sends two of his disciples to say to Jesus—

Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another? 

(St. Matthew 11.1-3)

________________________________________________________________

 

V         Could it really be that John is having doubts about Jesus?

Well, it could—

but it could also be

that John is

purposefully

obviously

doing what he said earlier

about him decreasing while Jesus must increase.

Perhaps this is not only doubt—

but also John doing his best to fulfill his prophetic mission.

God uses this moment of John’s doubt

to decrease John in the eyes of his disciples

and increase Jesus

in their hearts and in their faith.

 

So John sends his disciples to Jesus with his question

and

When they ask Jesus their question—

his answer is one that reveals his work

as the work of the Messiah who is bringing in his kingdom.

 

The blind see

            and

            the lame walk;

 

            The lepers are cleansed

            and

            the deaf hear;

 

            The dead are raised up

            and

            the poor have the gospel preached to them.

 

            And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.                                   (St. Matthew 11.4-6)

 

VI        Everything Jesus does

reveals him to be the Christ—

the promised Messiah

for the people of Israel

and

for the entire world.

 

Everything Jesus does

reveals him to be the Messiah—

and it also reveals John to be the promised Elijah—

Speaking of John

Jesus says—

This is he of whom it is written—

                                    Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,

                                    Who will prepare Your way before You.                  (St. Matthew 11.10/Malachi 3.1)

 

VII      Whether John knows it or not—

Jesus is the Coming One.

Whether John understands it or not—

Jesus is the Messiah.

Whether John believes it or not at that moment—

he had believed it before.

 

This is the same John

who leapt in his mother’s womb

when Mary came to visit Elizabeth

before either of them were born.                                              (St. Luke 1.44)

 

This is the same John

who saw Jesus coming toward him at the Jordan

and said—

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

 (St. John 1.29)

 

This is the same John

who told Jesus

that Jesus should baptize him—

not the other way around.                                                    (St. Matthew 3.14)

 

Whatever doubt John may have had

while he was in prison—

the truth of Jesus’ identity as the Messiah

was never in any danger.

 

VIII    And although John may have had his doubts about Jesus-

Jesus never doubted John.

 

Jesus calls John

more than a prophet.                                                                                   (St. Matthew 11.9)

                        the promised Elijah who has prepared his way.                                    (St. Matthew 11.10)

the greatest person living born of a woman.                                           (St. Matthew 11.11)

 

And when he finds out John was murdered by Herod

he took a boat out onto the sea all by himself

to grieve for his beloved

relative

friend

and

prophet.                                                                                  (St. Matthew 14.13)

 

John may have doubted Jesus

but Jesus never doubted John.

________________________________________________________________

 

IX       That truth—

that Jesus never doubted John—

that truth

brings

great

and

precious

comfort to us today.

 

Have you ever had doubts about Jesus?

Is he really the Messiah?

Is he really the Son of God?

Was he really born of a Virgin mother?

Did he do all those miracles the Bible talks about?

 

Did Jesus really die on the cross?

Did he rise from the dead?

Is he really with me in the midst of all suffering and struggle and trial and

tribulation?

Is he really coming again in glory at THE END OF THE AGE to raise me from the

dead?

 

If you’ve had doubts like those—

you could say—you’re in good company.

 

John—

the greatest and last of the Old Testament prophets

doubted—

but Jesus never doubted him.

 

And when you have the occasional doubt—

Jesus will never doubt you either.

 

He will call you to repentance for your doubt—

because

doubt is sin

it’s a tool the devil uses to make you question God.

Just like he did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

the devil plants doubt in your mind

to try to make you forsake your God.       (Genesis 3.1)

 

So Jesus will call you to repentance for your doubt.

And by his grace

He will strengthen you in your faith to put your doubt to rest.

and

He will build you up in faith and hope and love for the sake of his

salvation—

and he will never doubt you.

 

X         Jesus knows your doubts—

and still—he took on your flesh à

to set you free from all your doubts.

 

Jesus hears your doubts—

and still—he took up the cross

and all its suffering—

to pay for the sin your doubt puts on your soul.

 

That’s how you know

Jesus will never doubt you.

 

Jesus understands your doubts—

he understands them all too well—

so

He died on the cross

for

all your doubts

and

all your sins.

He rose from the grave

to overcome the power of the doubts

the devil tempts you with.

Christ ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty

to reign over his creation

and smash the devil’s power

to plant doubt in the souls of the saints.

Jesus prays for you without ceasing at the throne of God

and his prayer is this—

deliver them, dear Father, from their doubts.

and

 

Christ has promised to come again to take you into his everlasting glory—

where you will never experience doubt again.

 

John may have doubted Jesus.

You may doubt Jesus.

But

Jesus will never doubt you.

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

 

XI       John prepared the way for Jesus.

John preached

the promised

comfort of God

for

the people of God.

John got to lay eyes on Jesus à

and see him for himself.

 

An all the while—

he was decreasing

as Jesus was increasing.

 

And while Jesus increased—

so did your forgiveness

so did your joy

so did your salvation.

and

so did your victory over doubt.

 

XII      So if you’re having doubts about Jesus

as we prepare to celebrate his birth—

Confess those doubts to the Lord—

He will cleanse them from your soul

with his holy and precious blood.

Repent of your doubt—

turn away from it

and cling to Christ in honest, heartfelt faith.

 

And when you need Christ to drive away your doubts—

Listen to these words of his again and again—

and let the Coming One put your doubts to rest

and build you up in your most holy faith.

 

The blind see

            and

            the lame walk;

 

            The lepers are cleansed

            and

            the deaf hear;

 

            The dead are raised up

            and

            the poor have the gospel preached to them.

 

            And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.                                   (St. Matthew 11.4-6)

 

XIII    Come, Lord Jesus.

Come quickly.

Amen.

 

Invocation    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Hymn of Response:  O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Leave a Reply