- Sermon Notes
ILLUS – A birthday gift that didn’t go according to plan…
1.Expectations. One dictionary defined the term “expectation” as a “feeling or belief about how successful or good someone or something will be.”
2. Spoken or unspoken, we all have expectations.
3.It’s also true that we have certain “expectations” of God, that He will “be” a certain way or “act” a certain way.
4.But problems arise when our expectations of God don’t match up with our experiences. For some, their faith is severely damaged, even shipwrecked.
5.Is there an answer, a remedy, a solution so that our expectations of God line up with who God is regardless of our experiences?
6.Tonight, we will discover the answer by looking a man who was the greatest prophet under the Old Covenant, John the Baptist, and how Jesus ministered to him when John’s expectations of Jesus did not line up with his experience.
1.In Matthew 10, Jesus selected twelve of His disciples to be His apostles.
2.We noted two weeks ago that before the twelve could be His apostles, “those who are sent”, they first needed to be His disciples, “those who are taught.”
3.Being a disciple is more than just being a student because it involves a wholehearted commitment to applying the teachings of Jesus to one’s life.
4.Jesus also departed from that region of the Sea of Galilee to teach and preach in their cities. (11:1)
5.It’s at this point that two of the disciples of John the Baptist approached Jesus with a question from John, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (11:3)
6.Many who read this for the first time, shake their heads in disbelief. How could John the Baptist, the one who declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” question who Jesus is?
I.Our Lord is a Compassionate God (1-6)
- Context is helpful. John was imprisoned by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.
- According to Matthew 14:3-4, Herod Antipas put John in prison because John rebuked him for taking his brother’s wife, Herodias, to be his wife.
- John had been in prison for more than a year. He was discouraged, disappointed, and questioned if he had made a mistake. If he was the messenger who
went before the Messiah and Jesus was the Messiah, then why was he still in prison?
- If Jesus was the Messiah, the One who would separate the “wheat from the chaff” and purge Israel of her sin, then why did Jesus minister to tax collectors
and cast demons out of prostitutes?
- Should they “look for someone else?”
- We might expect Jesus to be disappointed in John or that He would reply with a sharp word of correction.
- But here we see the heart of our Savior. He responded with compassion.In fact, throughout the Scripture we see that God comforts the discouraged.
A. God comforts the discouraged
1.We all know what discouragement looks like when our expectations aren’t met.
2.John’s expectation of what the Messiah would do was different than what he was witnessing and experiencing.
APPL – It’s easy for us to have unfulfilled expectations as well. Many people come to God thinking that God should do things this way or that way.
- Jesus shocked the Jewish leaders when He touched lepers and ate with tax collectors and sinners.
- Many people at one time or another have thought, “If I was the Messiah, I would do things this way…”
- Verses 16-19 clearly paints that picture. Some complained that John was too strict and removed so they said he had a demon. Others complained that Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners, so they called him a glutton and a drunkard.
- People expect God to respond to their expectations when they should trust in what God is doing instead. God won’t dance to our tune. We must let His song resonate in our hearts.
3.There are many examples of great men who became discouraged at one time or another.
ILLUS – Moses became discouraged because Israel continually grumbled against him and God.
Numbers 11:11, 15, Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.
ILLUS – The prophet Jeremiah was so discouraged that he cursed the day he was born.
Jeremiah 20:14, Cursed be the day when I was born; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me!
ILLUS – Elijah ran for his life after Jezebel threatened him. He asked God to take his life, but God answered Elijah and comforted him like Jesus did John.
APPL – And God comforts us as well…
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
And God ministers to the depressed…
2 Corinthians 7:6, But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us…
B. Jesus used the Word to strengthen faith
1. Jesus responded to John’s question with an answer that was intended to strengthen John’s faith by leaving no doubt in his heart that Jesus is the Expected One, Israel’s Messiah!
2.“Go tell John what you hear and see… the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed…”
3. John would immediately understand that Jesus was quoting from the prophets, who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declared what Messiah would do to confirm that He was the “Expected One”, the One who had authority over sickness, disease, nature, the demonic realm, and death itself!
Isaiah 29:18-19, On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the Lord, and the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 35:3-6, Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will… save you.” Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
4.These verses along with others should have moved the hearts of the Jewish leaders of that day, for each gave testimony to the authority of God so that they would know their Messiah had come.
5.So Jesus pointed John back to the Word of God to remind him that God may not be doing what John expected, but God was doing what He had promised!
APPL – Pastor Rich has said, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God has revealed in the light.”
- In times of discouragement, it’s easy to lose sight of God’s promises and begin to doubt God’s heart and plan for our lives.
- God’s Word brings comfort because it shines light into the darkness and suddenly we’re able to see things clearly and understand that our God is with us and for us!
ILLUS – Dr. Lanier Burns, “Your eyes are cloudy!”
Psalm 119:50, This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me.
II. Remember Who You are in Jesus (7-19)
- After the John’s disciples went away, Jesus turned to the crowd and spoke to them about John and his great service for God’s kingdom.
- Which leads us to some difficult words of Jesus, words which reveal God’s perspective on what He has done through the New Covenant.
A. John was the greatest under the Old Covenant
1.In verse 11, Jesus said of John, “Among those born of women, there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.”
2.John was not a “reed shaken by the wind”, meaning, John was a man of conviction. He was not tossed here and there by the prevailing opinions of the day.
APPL – The same should be true of those in Christ…
Ephesians 4:14, As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming
3.He wasn’t concerned about popularity or the approval of men. Nor was he concerned about the latest fashion or food trends.
4.John was a prophet, but even more than a prophet, he was the one who introduced God’s Messiah.
5.Jesus said, “He is Elijah who is to come” not just because he looked like Elijah or was dressed like Elijah, but because he came in the spirit and power of Elijah.
Luke 1:17, It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
APPL – Heaven’s opinion of who we are is so different than what we think of ourselves or what others may think of us.
Isaiah 55:8-9, For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Quote: “If we could only fully understand how much God loves us, it would change us forever.” ~ Pastor Rich
B. But the least is greater than John
1.This is one of those amazing sayings of Jesus, that he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. What does this mean?
2.It means that John was the last and greatest of all the prophets under the Old Covenant, but everyone who enters into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ has received greater blessings and promises.
Ephesians 1:3,Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ
Hebrews 8:6, But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
3.We have been adopted into the family of God so that we can say with all sincerity, “Abba, Father.” We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. We have been raised up with Him and we are seated with Christ even now.
Ephesians 1:18-21, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Ephesians 2:4-7, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
APPL – God does not measure us according to our latest failings. He measures us according to the fact that we are in His Son, Jesus Christ.
- We make a mess of our lives when we forget what God says and who we are in His Son.
- We need to have our hearts lined up with God’s heart.
- We need to embrace His plan and not treat God like a genie in a bottle who is subject to our plans and expectations.
Psalm 86:11, Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Matthew 11:1-19 NASB