03 February 2013

Who Makes Us to Doubt?

"And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.  Then came the Jews round about Him, and said unto Him, How long dost Thou make us to doubt?  If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." John 10:23, 24.

Now, before we analyze this question at all, we have to see what happened immediately prior in the Bible record.  We'll just start in chapter 8 of John, and look at three ways Jesus has already told them He is the Messiah, even though there is ample evidence we could examine from even earlier than that.

1.  In the beginning of chapter 8, the Pharisees bring Jesus a woman caught in adultery and ask for Him to execute the just death sentence in the case.  (Of course, last I checked, it takes at least two people to be "taken... in the very act" v.4, and a death sentence to one and not the other would have been incredibly unjust.  They have put Jesus in a tough corner.). Focus especially on what Jesus says, that the one without sin in the group could administer the punishment, that He is the only one left of the crowd, and then says, "Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more." v.11. Look closely at what's implied:  He CAN condemn her, because He is without sin, but He DOES NOT condemn her.  The Pharisees all know this story, and yet they still doubt that Jesus has given any evidence that He is the Christ?

2.  The following portion of John 8 is the famous "I am the light of the world" passage.  Though there is a lot of beauty and truth in this passage, I'll skip to the end of it and note only this:  When the Jews question His personal knowledge of Abraham, Jesus replies, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am."  v.58 The rulers pick up stones to stone Him for blasphemy.  Why?  Compare Exodus 3:14.  Moses asks God for His name, and God replies, "I AM THAT I AM:  and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."  So Jesus has just called Himself God, and not only do they disbelieve Him, but they also later accuse Him of being unclear, of not telling them whether He is the Christ?

3.  This is followed with one of my very favorite stories.  A blind man is made to see, and immediately becomes a bold witness for Jesus, saying, "If this man were not of God, He could do nothing." John 9:33.  He loses his place in society for his witness, yet he gladly believes on the Son of God.  v.35, 36.  They see the works of the Messiah (see also Isaiah 35:1-5), yet they still blame Him for their own doubt?

On top and of all this, embedded in their question is a dangerous belief about God.  Did you see it?

They want Him to tell them plainly who He is.  They've missed or ignored prior evidence, but that is not the only issue.

They have been looking ahead to the Messiah's coming for generation upon generation, and they're afraid that when it really does come, God won't want them to know.  They're afraid He'll make them wonder, spending the days and months of His ministry missing the biggest event in their history.  They might be seeing the evidence and intentionally doubting.  But they might think God would be mean and just not let them know.

Scary stuff, right?

But don't we do the same thing all the time?

We want to know God's will for a decision, but we wonder if He'll really make it clear in time.  We think we need to make a change in our lives or habits, but we don't really believe that God will be our refuge and strength.  We want to believe Jesus is coming soon, but we see how long it has been promised, and we wonder if it really will come to pass.  (And so we live in daily spiritual mediocrity.). And we blame God for the lack of clarity:  after all He didn't tell us the day or the hour.

This life of doubt is empty.  We can't live in constant fear that God doesn't mean exactly what He says, or that He won't make the path clear before our feet.

We can replace the doubt today.  With faith.

That He will provide.
That He will make His will clear.
That He will never leave or forsake.
That He will be an ever present help.
That He will come again soon.
That He will finish the work He started in us.
That He will keep that which I've committed. unto Him against that day.

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