Luke – Doors Wide Open!
Luke 7 john-baptist-prisonConfusion and doubt hits all of us at times. We might be doing what we think God wants but confused by the response of others so that puts us briefly in doubt mode. We wonder if we are doing what God wants. We wonder if we are doing things correctly or in the best way. We are confused by attitudes around us. We are confused when we get stuck in the prison of our doubt. So, we ask God.
John had been in prison some months (Luke 3:19–20), but he knew what Jesus was doing because his own disciples kept him informed. It must have been difficult for this man, accustomed to a wilderness life, to be confined in a prison. The physical and emotional strain were no doubt great, and the long days of waiting did not make it easier. The Jewish leaders did nothing to intercede for John, and it seemed that even Jesus was doing nothing for him. If He came to set the prisoners free (Luke 4:18), then John the Baptist was a candidate!
Luke 7, New Living Translation
Jesus and John the Baptist
18 The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, 19 and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
20 John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”
lUke 7 prison21 At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. 22 Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 23 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
24 After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
29 When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.
31 “To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them? 32 They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t weep.’
33 For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.”
Luke 7 doubting God.jpgIt is not unusual for great spiritual leaders to have their days of doubt and uncertainty. Moses was ready to quit on one occasion (Num. 11:10–15), and so were Elijah (1 Kings 19) and Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7–9, 14–18), and even Paul knew the meaning of despair (2 Cor. 1:8–9).
There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is a matter of the mind: we cannot understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. Unbelief is a matter of the will: we refuse to believe God’s Word and obey what He tells us to do. “Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong,” said Oswald Chambers; “it may be a sign that he is thinking.” In John’s case, his inquiry was not born of willful unbelief, but of doubt nourished by physical and emotional strain. So John sends people to confirm his belief in Jesus.
Luke 7 who is GodJesus did not give the two men a lecture on theology or prophecy. Instead, He invited them to watch as He healed many people of many different afflictions. Certainly these were His credentials as the promised Messiah. He had not established a political kingdom, but the kingdom of God was there in power.
There are many people today who criticize the church for not “changing the world” and solving the economic, political, and social problems of society. What they forget is that God changes His world by changing individual people. History shows that the church has often led the way in humanitarian service and reform, but the church’s main job is to bring lost sinners to the Savior. Everything else is a by-product
of that. Proclaiming the gospel must always be the church’s first priority.
What we think of ourselves, or what others think of us, is not as important as what God thinks. Jesus waited until the messengers had departed, and then He publicly commended John for his ministry. At the same time, He exposed the sinful hearts of those who rejected John’s ministry.
What do we think God would say about us?
John the Baptist was not a compromiser, a reed blowing in the wind (note Eph. 4:14); nor was he a popular celebrity, enjoying the friendship of great people and the pleasures of wealth. John did not waver or weaken, no matter what people did to him. John was not only a prophet, but he was a prophet whose ministry was prophesied (see Isa. 40:3 and Mal. 3:1)! The last of the Old Testament prophets, John had the great privilege as God’s messenger of introducing the Messiah to Israel.
John’s ministry was a turning point in both the nation’s history and in God’s plan of redemption (Luke 16:16).
Luke 7:29–30 are the words of Jesus, not an explanation from Luke (see Matt. 21:32). They answer the question some of the people were asking: “If John is such a great prophet, why is he in prison?” The answer is, because of the willful unbelief of the religious leaders. The common people accepted John’s message and were baptized by him as proof of their repentance. They “justified God,” which means they agreed with what God said about them (Ps. 51:4). But the religious leaders justified themselves (Luke 16:15), not God, and rejected John and his message.
Jesus compared that generation to people who were childish, not childlike, and nothing pleased them. He was probably referring to the scribes and Pharisees in particular. John was an individual who declared a stern message of judgment, and they said, “He has a demon!” Jesus mingled with the people and preached a gracious message of salvation, and they said, “He’s a glutton, a winebibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners!” They wanted neither the funeral nor the wedding, because nothing pleased them.
Luke 7 why I believe
Are we childlike in our faith?
Are we childish in our behaviors, wanting our way, never being satisfied?
People who want to avoid the truth about themselves can always find something in the preacher to criticize. This is one way they “justify themselves.” But God’s wisdom is not frustrated by the arguments of the “wise and prudent.” It is demonstrated in the changed lives of those who believe. This is how true wisdom is “justified.”
John believed. His belief and mission to tell the Truth landed him in prison. Doubt was temporary and alleviated by a little talk with Jesus via his friends.
Have you had a little talk with Jesus lately?
LUke 5 certainDear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior
Sometimes we doubt if we are doing what YOU asked is right and good. We need affirmations and clarification at times. Sometimes we doubt when we think you are not working in the middles of challenges. But you come and relieve us. We wonder if we heard you correctly when you sent us out to certain tasks. Our belief has not changed in the You. You are God and we are not. It’s just that sometimes this doubt becomes our own prison. We get stuck and cannot move forward. So we pray for restored joy of our salvation. We pray like David, cleanse me, take away from my thinking all that offends you. Renew a right Spirit within me. Renew our thinking and behaving.
In Jesus Name, Amen
And I’m singing…
I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven fill my soul
He bathed my heart in love and He wrote my name above
And just a little talk with Jesus makes me whole
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry, He will answer by and by
And when you feel a little prayer wheel turnin’
And you will know a little fire is burnin’
Find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
I may have doubts and fears, my eye be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to him in prayer, He knows my every care
And just a little talk with my Jesus makes it right
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry, He will answer by and by
And when you feel a little prayer wheel turnin’
And you will know a little fire is burnin’
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right…

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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  1. Homer Les says:

    “There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is a matter of the mind: we cannot understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. Unbelief is a matter of the will: we refuse to believe God’s Word and obey what He tells us to do.”

    You nailed it with this! Excellent.

    When we were on our homeless journey of faith we learned this the hard way. We had lots of doubt simply because God was doing things waaaay beyond our comprehension. It is natural to wonder and doubt, especially when something is new. I would often voice my doubts to my wife, Wanda.

    Unbelief is a different matter altogether. This is the same as faithlessness. Although doubt is simply a recognition that the mind can’t quite grasp something, unbelief is all about action. When we have faithlessness, unbelief, it will work its way out in the way we behave by rejecting God’s will and letting our ‘self’ nature rule the day.

    One day when we happened to be in a motel (well that would be a few days ago 😉 ) I expressed my doubts to Wanda about whether we would see the complete end of our homeless days and actually be able to live in a real home again. After all it has been 12 years without a real home and we kind of miss it. This was doubt speaking. She gently corrected me about the promises of God as she frequently does and I received them. Then I pointed out, as I have done many times in the past, even though I have doubts I wasn’t about to change course and somehow find my own way out of this homelessness. I have doubt because I don’t know the future, but not unbelief because I know my God. We have come too far in faith to be faithless now. 🙂

    When trials come doubt is fine, but if unbelief is there you will quit faster than politician grabs a bribe. Unbelief is really belief in ‘self’. When God puts us into trials He wants to expose that ‘self’, to root it out so we can repent of its unbelief and disobedient ways.

    Anyways, just my two bits. Great post. I liked it.

    Homer Les

    Liked by 1 person

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