John E. Shaffett
Dr. Scott, What Kind of Man was John the Baptist?
This is a summary and response of a chapel sermon I heard last week.
John the Baptist was a special man because of his birth. Zachariah and Elizabeth were old when they had John. Zachariah received a visit from the angel Gabriel. The angel told Zachariah that Elizabeth would have a son and he was to name him, John. Zachariah said how can this be since I am old? The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and bring you this good news” (Luke 1:19). Zachariah was struck silent because he did not believe the angel’s words.
John the Baptist was special not only because a supernatural announcement of his birth. Second, he was to be filled with the Spirit from his womb. John would be full of the Spirit even from birth. Third, Jesus came to be baptized by John. John tried to refuse it, but Jesus said it must be done to fulfill all righteousness. Fourth, we see that John was a bold preacher. He called the people, “A brood of vipers.” Not many preachers can get away with that.
Then, Dr. Scott came to his major passage, Luke 7:18-28. John was now in prison. He sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another (Luke 7:19)? John is discouraged and is beginning to doubt that Jesus is the promised Messiah. John the Baptist is an example of a sincere believer who struggles with doubt. This passage refutes the myth that the committed Christian should never doubt. It also refutes the idea that Christians should not ask questions of their faith. It is not God’s will for us to keep our doubts in the closet. Paul Tillich said that doubt was a natural part of faith. It is human to doubt.
How did Jesus respond to the doubts of John the Baptist? Did he condemn him? Did he reprimand him? On the contrary, Jesus affirmed him. The questions and doubts of John was not the end of his ministry. Often, our doubts and questions lead to the deepening of our faith. It is best not to hide our doubts and questions. It is better to share them with our friends and redeemer.