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Unexpected Disappointment

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Good evening and welcome. I am glad we can be gathered together. Tonight i want to continue to look at John the Baptist. One of the interesting things about John the Baptist is how important and fleeting he is in the scriptures. John is an important figure but disappears quickly in the Gospels.
For someone who is billed as being really important his role seems to be very diminished. He fades into the background quickly.
This isn’t really that surprising because in light of who he preceded is it really that shocking.
John Preceded Jesus.
There is an old saying in show business “tough act to follow”
For John it was the reverse. He had a tough act to open for.
However, something strange happened for John.
John was disappointed.

Disappointment

Now disappointment is a strange thing. In many ways there are different ways to understand and approach disappointment.
For parents we like to use it when our kids do something we don’t like. We become disappointed in their choices or actions.
We also get disappointed when something we were looking forward to doesn’t turn out the way that we expected.
This happens when I am cooking sometimes.

Disappointing recipe

I like to cook and I will sometimes look for recipes to try and to bring some variety into our life. Every now and than I will also tweak a recipe that i have used in the past to make it better.
Sometimes it produces great results and the food taste better and we enjoy it more. Other times it leaves us disappointed.
It isn’t always that the food is bad it just isn’t what we were expecting. Its not unusual that we get an idea in our minds of what something is supposed to be but the reality doesn’t live up to the expectations we had.
For John he was experiencing this. We find this out when we read Matthew chapter 11
Matthew 11:2–11 NIV
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

John’s Disappointment

John was disappointed because Jesus the Messiah wasn’t what he expected. To really understand this we need to go back to chapter 3.
Matthew 3:11–12 NIV
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John knew that Jesus was to be more powerful than him and he knew that he was coming and he knew that there was a need for repentance.
Jesus shows up and he is healing people and he is caring for the poor and he is performing miracles and that was not what John expected.
It is thought that this is what motivated John’s question about Jesus and his ministry.
It isn’t that he was unhappy with Jesus it just wasn’t what he expected. He was expecting judgment and instead Jesus was bringing grace and mercy.
This is similar with other passages when the disciples and others were expecting the Messiah to be a savior to free the people from the burden of Roman empire. They expected a knight to come in and free them from their oppressors.
Yet, that wasn’t what Jesus came to do. He came to do something greater than what John expected.

Jesus Not a stumbling block

Matthew 11:6 NIV
6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus saw in John that he was struggling and he knew that the way that people saw the Messiah was going to be a challenge. These ideas of what the Messiah was supposed to be had to be challenging.
Jesus called them to realize that they can’t let their preconceived notions of who or what the Messiah was supposed to be that prevented them from having faith. Jesus didn’t want John to Stumble or to lose faith but wanted to help him See who the Messiah is. He did this by asking his followers to bear witness to the work he was doing.
Than the followers saw what was happening and as they left Jesus does something interesting.

Jesus’ Challenge

Jesus challenges the people in the room about who they thought John the Baptist was. However, he doesn’t really question who he is he asked them What they went to the desert to see.
Matthew 11:7 NIV
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
Jesus Asked them what John preached and what John stood for. This was to help draw attention to the fact that Jesus had no doubt about who John was and the importance of his message. He wanted to leave no doubt that the message of John was important.
It is in this that we need to recognize that there is a balance that is struck in the New Testament. Those who had been witnessed to the work of God and all that he had done had their expectations. Yet Jesus was something different.
He was focused not on the judgement but on the mercy.

Judgement or Mercy

We often look at these two ideas of judgment and mercy and we can’t see them together. For many people it is one or the other.
For some we expect God to provide us with all the warm and lovely feelings. We want the forgiveness and the grace and the love that we have come to expect with Jesus. He forgave sins, he healed, and he blessed people.
Than there are the people who think that God is a God of Judgement that if we don’t get right with him that we will face the hellfire and brimstone of Hell and we will be punished if we do not turn our lives toward him.
What i think is interesting is if we witness the totality of Jesus ministry we see both. Did Jesus bring the importance of grace and ministry. Aboslutely. His ministry is marked by this.
Did Jesus also bring a sense of Judgement and authority to bring people to change their lives. Absolutely.
What i always find interesting is we see this not only in Jesus’ ministry but in the relationship with God that the Israelites had. His grace and mercy are present as well as his judgement. There are times that God knew that they needed that grace and mercy and there were times for judgemnt.

Time for Grace and Mercy but Judgement is coming

We are in a time when Jesus brough grace and mercy. He brought healing. Yet, we also know that Judgemnt is close and that we will answer for our actions and the lives we lived before God and soon. WE can’t ever forget that because it reminds us the importance of living a life that is pursuing of God. It can’t every be seen as either or but as both.
Id we do that we can realize that we have a lot less to fear and be disappointed in our expectations of who God is but we gain a fuller picture of the nature of God and what is coming.
let us pray.
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