Written by Toby Baxley
Mike Tyson once famously quipped, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
In our text from Sunday’s sermon, John the Baptist had been punched in the mouth, figuratively speaking. He’d been unjustly imprisoned for speaking out against the sin of Herod Antipas. While under arrest, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah.
Imagine that! The cousin of Jesus – the forerunner of the Messiah – was questioning if he was the chosen one or if there was another one coming. It was an honest question and it should give us such comfort. If John the Baptist had doubt, we shouldn’t run from ours.
TWO KINDS OF DOUBT
At this point, I believe it’s important to examine two kinds of doubt. The first is doubting away from faith. It’s also known as skepticism. Incidentally, it was the same kind of doubt that John’s own father, Zacharias, expressed when the angel told him that his aged wife would have a child. As a result, he was struck dumb until the time of the child’s birth. Doubting away from faith is a search for reasons to disbelieve. It’s a search for a loophole; a way out.
The other kind of doubt is doubting toward faith. It is sincere questioning with the intent to believe. It doesn’t presume to know, but presents its questions humbly. Mary, the mother of Jesus, experienced this doubt when the angel told her that she would have a son, though she was not married. Her doubt toward faith was met with reassurance instead of rebuke.
This doubt toward belief was the same doubt that John expressed. He was met with a gentle, gracious response from his Messiah and ours.
So what happens when you get punched in the mouth?
Life in general and this time in particular have reminded us:
It’s on this third point that I want to focus because, if we’re to doubt like John, we have to deal with our unrealistic expectations. John was expecting something different from the Messiah and, perhaps, we are too. Perhaps, we’re holding Jesus to promises he’s never made. Promises like health, wealth, job security, happy marriages, well-behaved children, etc. In doing so, we reveal where we’re misplacing our hope.
Beloved, your Messiah is not your health. It’s not your job, or your spouse, or your kids. It’s not having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Your Messiah, your only Messiah, is the prophet-priest-king, Jesus! All other ground is sinking sand.
How to Doubt Toward Faith like John
With this in mind, I want to leave you with three steps to dealing with your doubt.
It’s OK to doubt. Doubt is not the enemy of faith. Doubt can strengthen your faith when you doubt toward faith and bring your doubts to the only one who is able to answer: The Messiah Jesus.
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