If you were at church yesterday, you heard an amazing sermon from Pastor Richard regarding John the Baptist and the call of Christ. If you missed it, listen here.
I’ve always loved John’s admonition (here) that Jesus must become greater and he (John the Baptist) must become less. This of course comes after John has baptized Jesus and declares that Jesus is the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. In short, John recognizes the Divinity of God residing in this man of Nazareth: Jesus. And after John baptizes Jesus, God Himself looks down from heaven and confirms what John already can sense: Yes, this is my Son, the Savior of the world.
And yet, even though John knew Jesus was the messiah (John heard God’s words himself!) and even though John prays for Jesus’ ministry to be increased and his own role to be decreased, at the end of John’s ministry he finds himself discouraged and rethinking everything about Jesus. When he is in jail, eventually to be beheaded by Herod, John sends his disciples to ask Jesus basically, “are you sure you’re still the One?”
For John, he is so caught up in his present situation and despair that he takes his eyes off of Christ. He can’t see the mountaintop he is climbing…all he can see is the valley below. He is blinded from Jesus by his own pain. Keep in mind, the man was sitting on death row for doing nothing other than preaching about God. His despair and disdain and frustration is understandable. And Jesus responds in a powerful way back to John’s disciples. Instead of just saying yes, Jesus responds here to tell John that the blind see, the lame walk, the hopeless have hope. Basically, the Savior is doing the Savior’s work- Light has returned to the darkened land.
The sermon was so encouraging because as Richard taught, Jesus always has patience with us when we have doubts. He too understood the frustrated human condition and that is why Jesus can love us even when we’re unsure of what is going on with the world. But Jesus teaching here is clear. He wants us to understand that if we can never look past ourselves in order to see God, the view isn’t going to be that great. No- to understand the power of Jesus and the work He is doing in our world- we must look beyond ourselves and focus on Jesus Christ. Our pain is real, and Jesus isn’t dismissing this, but He instead says, “Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.” The call to Christ isn’t without challenge and Jesus doesn’t offer a wholistic 1-2-3 program for dissolving our pain. Instead, He encourages us to look out from our own despair and find hope in the life and love of Jesus Christ.