How You Can Be Sure About Jesus
How can you be so sure about Jesus?
That’s probably not a question you expect to hear your preacher ask is it? I mean, the preacher’s job is to feed your faith, not raise your doubts. The preacher’s job is not to ask questions as to dish out answers. The preacher is supposed to comfort you, not challenge you, right? Especially when it comes to Jesus. Preacher, if we aren’t sure about Jesus, then what can we be sure about?
Let me quickly tell you that I know we can and should be certain about Jesus. My question is not meant to drudge up doubts about Christ. It is meant to help us confront our doubts openly and honestly. It’s easy to try to construct a faith that is like a fine porcelain figurine---really nice to look at, but at the same time very fragile. We believe what we believe about Jesus because that’s what our parents believe, or that’s what the church teaches, or because what we believe about Jesus makes us feel better.
But a porcelain faith isn’t very safe when an earthquake hits. When life gets turned upside down, suddenly pious Sunday morning clichés begin to sound like nonsense. It is in those times you may be tempted to question what you were once so sure about Jesus.
I think about the young person who grows up in church, attends Sunday School, learns the Bible verses, but lives most of his life in a culture constantly telling him everything he thinks he knows about Jesus is just a fairy tale. When is he going to outgrow all that kids’ stuff?
I think about the wife who is struggling to hold her marriage together, who prays earnestly for her husband and her kids, but it doesn’t seem to help. Every day she sinks a little deeper into her loneliness, and she wonders what she’s doing wrong, why doesn’t the Lord help her?
I think about the person with chronic health problems, praying constantly for healing, but every night taking medicine to ease the pain just enough to nod off for a few hours. Why do I have to suffer, Lord? Do you really care about me as much as the Bible says You do?
I think about someone maybe here this morning who is not a Christian, who sees people who seem so sure about Christ, but they just can’t seem to get that same assurance.
How can you be so sure about Jesus?
I want to look at someone who struggled with this question, and who, I believe, found the answer. I believe his story can help you and I develop a rock solid assurance about the Savior. The story of his struggle is found in Matt. 11:1-6. Let’s begin with vs. 1-3.
All 4 Gospels begin not with the ministry of Christ, but with the ministry of John the Baptist.
John was a real man’s preacher. He didn’t tiptoe around, meekly whispering nice religious phrases—His voice boomed out like thunder, His message not an invitation but an ultimatum. He was the original fire and brimstone preacher. John is not a minister who minces words. He is even bold enough to take on the powerful tyrant King Herod for his sin.
But the most important focus of John’s message is not on sin or on Herod, but on the One Who will come. John preaches about Jesus before anybody else knows Who Jesus is. It is John who announces Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. It is John who baptizes Jesus and John who later puts himself in his place by declaring in
Jn 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
It is also this same John who sends some friends to ask Jesus the question in vs. 3: are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?
John, how can you ask this question? You’ve seen Jesus in Person, you saw the dove and the sky ripped open, heard the voice of God Himself declare This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased! Surely if anybody should be sure about Jesus, John it ought to be you!
But John’s faith is shaken when he is arrested by Herod. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long he sits there in prison, but we do know in the dark, damp dungeon, nobody hears John’s preaching, nobody gets baptized. Now the only faces he ever sees are the guards and a few friends who are care enough and are brave enough to chance a visit. He asks them about what’s happening in the outside world, especially what Jesus is up to. Perhaps He expects Jesus to soon lower the boom on the Herods of the world, tear down the walls of this cell, and lead His faithful prophet out in triumph.
What he hears is a different story. His friends tell him Jesus doesn’t seem interested in wreaking vengeance on Herod or anybody else. Rome is still in charge, Herod is still king, and John is still in jail, waiting for his inevitable execution.
How would you feel if you were John? Is it any wonder he has questions?
Is this God’s plan for me? Call me to preach then allow this evil king to shut me up? When is Jesus going to make His play? Lord, surely You won’t forget me, surely you won’t leave me to rot in this cell.
He was once so sure about Jesus, but now he is struggles with doubts. Not stubborn unbelief, but honest doubts. Where does he take his doubts? To the Lord.
Have you ever been where John is?
Ever found yourself wasting away in the prison of worry or fear? You sing “Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus” but then things start looking pretty scary for you. The Lord doesn’t seem to be coming through, and you don’t know how much longer you can wait for Him to do something. Are You the One, or do we look for another?
Or perhaps you are imprisoned by in a cell of loneliness. How can I feel so lonely when You promised You’d never leave me nor forsake me? Your prayers seem pointless, and God feels a million miles away. Are you the One, or should we look for another?
Your jail may be guilt. Lord, You told me You’d always provide a way of escape, but I can’t seem to find it. I pray for forgiveness, but I still feel condemned. Lord, I don’t understand how this can keep happening! Are You the One, or should we look for another?
Psalm 88:14 Lord, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?
Ps 13:1 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
We’re not talking about stubborn unbelief here—the attitude that refuses to trust Christ. We’re talking about an honest struggle of a person who just can’t seem to get a foothold on their faith. This was John’s struggle; this is our struggle.
What do you do with your doubts? You do what John did: you take them to Jesus. You don’t deny them, or ignore them, you pray about them. Honestly lay out your feelings and struggles with the Lord, and He won’t condemn you—He will answer you, the same way He answers John in vs. 4-5.
Go and tell John the things which you hear and see…
I’ve never been there, but I imagine a dungeon is a pretty depressing place. It’d be easy to host a pity party in prison, easy to focus on your own troubles, hard to set your sights higher.
But Jesus calls John to do just that, because if you want to be sure about Jesus, you cannot focus on either your feelings or your circumstances. Somehow you’ve got to see the bigger picture, which Jesus paints for John in vs. 5.
These words focus on 2 very important ways Jesus helps us be sure about Him.
The first way is through God’s Word. John hears these words and immediately remember the OT prophecies concerning the Messiah, such as
Is 35:4-5 4Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God…will come and save you.” 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Jesus is giving John the assurance that He is fulfilling the Scriptures according to schedule. You can be sure of Me because of what you’ve read in God’s Word.
John’s assurance about Jesus will also be based on what Jesus has done. Christ can point to the crowd that’s following Him as evidence of His power to change lives.
See that fellow over there? Last week he was blind. Never saw his wife or children’s face, never saw a sunrise or sunset, never walked anywhere without a guide. Go over and look him in the eye, and let him tell you what happened.
Sneak up behind that lady who used to be deaf and whisper something. She’ll hear you loud and clear. Ask her what happened to her, and she’ll be glad to tell you.
Stroll on over to that fellow and get him to show you his arms that used to be covered with the sores and scabs of leprosy. Ask him to roll up his sleeves and show you his smooth skin.
Wander through this crowd of poor people who once drifted through life hopelessly. Ask them about the hope they are finding in the Gospel that I preach.
Look around you, take notes, see what is happening. Then go back and tell John how lives have been changed by the power of Jesus Christ.
Jesus gives John plenty of reasons to be sure about Who He is, both from the Word of God, and from the powerful change He brings in the lives of people who trust Him.
How can you be so sure about Jesus? By looking at the same evidence Jesus points John to: God’s Word and Jesus’ works.
The Bible is different from any and every other book you will ever read.
2 Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…= God breathed.
The words of this book are not just the words of human writers---they are the Words of God. When this Book speaks, God speaks. And from cover to cover it’s all about Jesus.
Jn 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
If you want a faith that is sure about Jesus, you get it from God’s Word.
Ro 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
But you can also be sure about Jesus by looking around at His works.
Jn 14:11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
Look back in history at what Jesus has done.
Look back at a man like Saul of Tarsus---educated, zealous Pharisee who once tried to wipe out Christians from the face of the earth. Jesus Christ met him on the road to Damascus and changed his life so drastically he became the first major Christian missionary, founder of most of the 1st century churches. This one-time enemy of Jesus ends up writing over half of our NT scriptures, and even gives his life for the Lord he once despised.
Look at a man like John Newton, a cruel, godless slave trader and sailor who, as a young man, used such filthy obscenities and profanities even the salty sailors blushed. But during a storm at sea, Christ changed his life, and he became a Christian, a pastor, and the author of the words to the hymn Amazing Grace. [i]
Or come on into the 21st century, and look at the lives of people today whose lives were changed by Christ.
Christ has delivered people from the guilt of their sins, from addictions to alcohol and drugs, lifted others from the depths of depression, and healed the hearts and minds of countless people. If we were to stop right now and have a testimony service, there are plenty of folks right now who could tell you how they were changed by the power of Jesus Christ.
Dan Poling’s son, Clark, faced his father across the desk and abruptly said, “Dad, what do you know about God?” “Mighty little.” That startled the son. He straightened but held his eyes as his father said: “Mighty little do I know about God—less now, perhaps, than I thought I knew when I sat where you sit! But Clark, what I do know by the test of experience—[through] sickness and health, sorrow and joy, death and life—what I do know about God changes my life!”—Daniel A. Poling [ii]
What you can know about Jesus—through His Word, and through looking around at what He has done—can change your life, too.
Jesus gives us plenty of reasons you can be sure about Him. But let’s be honest—some people can stare the truth in the face and still deny it. If you want to be sure about Jesus you need more than just evidence—you need to make a personal decision to trust Him for yourself. Perhaps this is why Jesus adds a gentle rebuke to John in vs. 6 and blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.
The word offended= tripped up, stumbled. John has stumbled into doubt not because he doesn’t have enough evidence (look back at v. 2. John had already heard about what Jesus was up to.) It’s as if Jesus says John, being sure about me is not just a matter of accepting facts—it is choosing to trust Me, even when things don’t make sense.
And there are some things about this story that you have to wonder about.
Jesus doesn’t deliver this message to John personally—He sends it through John’s friends. Why? Surely a personal visit would be been more encouraging?
Jesus doesn’t tell John everything will be OK, brother. Just hang in there a few more days and I’ll spring you out of jail. If you know the rest of the story, you know John is beheaded as a result of Herod’s lust and cowardice.
Why does the Lord allow it to end this way? Jesus never answers this question, either for John or for us. What He does say is Blessed is the one who trusts Me just as much in the storm as in the sunshine. Blessed is the man who doesn’t get tripped up when things don’t seem to make sense. Blessed is the one who clings to Me when they cannot see Me or feel Me. Blessed are the ones who are committed to trust Me as my servant Job once trusted Me when He said
Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…
“Bro. Mike I could never trust anybody that much…” But you already do, don’t you? Aren’t there folks you would trust with your life? Maybe your parents, or your kids, your spouse or best friend. Who do you trust with your very life? Why do you trust them? Because you know they love you.
Author Tim Hansel writes One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and then yelled “Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk. When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that?” He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure...because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy.[iii]
Why should you trust Jesus? Because you know He loves you.
And yet as much as He loves you, you will never have a real assurance about Jesus unless you make a personal commitment to trust Him with your life. If you want to really be sure about Jesus, you have to trust Him as your Savior from sin, and trust Him as the Lord of your life.
How can you be sure about Jesus? Because He has clearly revealed Himself in His Word and by His works. But more than this, you can be sure because You can know Him personally.
Reverend W. A. Criswell, legendary pastor of the First Baptist of Dallas TX, which was once the biggest Baptist church in the world. Near the end of his life he was asked whether he ever doubted God. Despite more than 50 years spent thundering certainties from a high pulpit, he admitted has doubted that God exists. Why didn't he give up his faith in Christ? His answer: “The reason[s are] very obvious. One is that I have no place to go…I don't have anything [else] to turn to…And second,…it is a blessing to love the Lord and trust in the Lord, and even when we don't understand, we believe that He'll make it plain in the by and by. So we'll just trust Him for it.'“[iv]
Do you trust Him? Are you sure about Jesus this morning?
My friend, you can afford many uncertainties in life, but you cannot afford not to be sure about Jesus. You need to be sure you know He died for your sins. You need to be sure He is your Lord and Savior. You need to be sure He is in control of your life. He will not always answer all of your questions. But He will give you the assurance that He can be trusted to save you, keep you, and take you all the way to heaven. Won’t you come and be sure about Jesus right now?
[i]Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (639). Nashville:
[ii]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and
[iii]Holy Sweat, Tim Hansel, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.10,000 Sermon Illustrations, electronic
[iv] GOD KNOWS MY HEART by Christine Wicker New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), p. 108.