John the Baptist was sheltering in place in this text. In reality, he was on lockdown!!! I’m thankful that the Bible faithfully reports to us not only the successes of some of the greatest people who have ever lived but also their failures. We all need to be encouraged at times. Knowing that some great people in Bible times faced challenges is something that can encourage us as well.
John the Baptist was one of the greatest men who ever walked on the face of this earth; however, he was still made of flesh. When circumstances were difficult and extremely discouraging, he had his moments of great doubt and was even at the point of potentially becoming offended at Christ. Doubt and even offense are common struggles for many Christians today, just as it was for some of the great Bible characters.
But you cannot live with this type of attitude and negative perspective. Yes, everyone has their moments and even their seasons, but God requires us to overcome these challenges.
How does a person overcome having the wrong attitude and, rather, choose to live with a biblical perspective with eternity in view?
First, we must:
1. Refuse to Believe God does not See and that He does not Care!
“Jesus…departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.” – verse 1
John believed that Jesus did not want to pay any attention to his situation. Jesus went on about His ministry without visiting John in the prison or rescuing him from this difficult situation. This made it hard for John to accept that Jesus still cared about him.
“When John had heard in the prison the works of Christ” – verse 2
John still had some faithful disciples who were loyal to him and brought good news about “the works of Christ.” These works were truly amazing, but they left John feeling very alone and confused.
John had been placed in prison by Herod because he preached against Herod’s adulterous relationship with Herodias. John the Baptist was an outdoorsman not used to being cooped up. His ministry was now shut down. This experience caused John to doubt. His situation would have caused anyone to doubt.
I don’t know about you, but I love the song, “There’s no need to doubt Him now, He’ll make a way somehow.” We must believe this with all our heart!
2. Remember what God has Done in the Past.
Jesus said in verse 4 – Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see
When you begin to doubt the present-day circumstances, take time to remember what God has done in the past. John did not need new proof; he simply needed to look back again at the proof he had already been given.
When you start to doubt God, remember the cross; remember answered prayer; remember all He has done to bring you to where you are today.
How do we live with a biblical perspective?
3. Recognize, by Faith, that God is at Work Right Now!
“The blind receive their sight, 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.” – verse 5
John could not see the miracles Jesus was doing at that moment. He was disillusioned, desperately needing some good news.
Jesus told John’s disciples to testify to John and listed six major blessings:
First, “The blind receive their sight.”
Second, “The lame walk.”
Third, “The lepers are cleansed.”
Fourth, “The deaf hear.”
Fifth,“The dead are raised up.”
Sixth, The poor “have the gospel preached to them.”
Our wonderful pastor covered with our church all the accomplishments of NVBC during the year of COVID. He reminded us that God has done so many wonderful things for us, and we must take time to pay attention to what He is doing in the present. We must also—
4. Reject the Urge to Become Offended!
Jesus tells this great man of God in verse 6 – “Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”
There are several things we need to understand about this truth.
A. The Word of God is always an offense to our flesh.
It does not matter if you are saved or lost; the flesh will always want to reject the Word of God.
B. The world we live in today especially gets offended and rejects the Word of God.
We all recognize this is not something we need to spend time on, but why? Why is the world having such a hard time receiving truth? This leads me to the next point.
C. The church, in many places, has now become offended at the Word of God.
We will never see revival in our day and the Word of God received into the hearts of men until the church, the pillar and ground of truth, stops becoming offended at the Word of God and stops rejecting the Bible. The world rejects what they do not like about the Bible because we as God’s people reject the portions of the Bible we do not like.
Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love thy law: And nothing shall offend them.”
Some people stumble spiritually in life over what they don’t understand about God or what God is doing. These are Christians who get upset because Christ is not popular. They are offended that the Word of God is hard on their flesh. They are not happy because self-denial is required of a faithful follower of Christ.
When we refuse to be offended, we have a better perspective of life. We do not look at today’s injustices when we seek to keep eternity in view.
John is in prison while Herod, who is ungodly, is living in his palace. Although that was true 2,000 years ago, today Herod is burning in a lake of fire, and John the Baptist is in the very presence of God.
We can choose not to be offended by challenging situations when we love the Word of God. And when we truly love the Word of God, we will then—
5. Relinquish our Rights and Die to Self!
It was John the Baptist who said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Pastor Trieber always says, “When you pinch a dead man, he doesn’t yell ‘Ouch!’”
May I make a suggestion that when you face extremely challenging situations as John did, go to the right place for help. John did. John went to Christ with his heartache.
Jesus is the One who can help you with your doubt, hurt, loneliness, and offense. Facebook, friends, and family will fail you, but Jesus never fails!
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In June 2000, after graduating from Golden State Baptist College, John Evertson answered the call to pastor West Valley Baptist Church in Woodland, California. After 19 years, God moved Pastor and Mrs. Evertson to Santa Clara. Pastor Evertson is instrumental in the church and serves as the Campus Pastor for Golden State Baptist College to help guide the future servants of God. Pastor & Mrs. Evertson have four children — Josiah, Jeremiah, Joy, and Joshua.