Jerry Locke
Series of 11 Short Studies
FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 8 - John The Baptist
Doubted The Purpose Of God

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FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 8 - John the Baptist — Doubted the Purpose of God

Matthew 11:3

Stephen Pile chronicled some of the biggest failures in modern history.

The Incomplete Book of Failures.

· Thomas Edison's teacher said, "he was too stupid to learn."

· Albert Einstein's teacher said, "He (Albert) was mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams."

· One Word: Edsel (a door that would not close, a hood that would not open and horn that would not honk). To this very day there is no record of anyone ever stealing an Edsel.

· Decca records rejected the Beatles.

· The newspaper editor who fired Walt Disney because he lacked ideas....

So far in our pursuit of Famous Failures we have discovered that when we fail we are in good company, joining Adam, Moses, Jonah, Peter, John Mark, and King David.

· How did Adam fail? He defied the command of God. God used a symbol to get his attention—an animal slain for his sin.

· How did Moses fail? He disregarded the plan of God. God used to get his attention? A sight - the burning bush.

· How did Jonah fail? He disobeyed the Word of God. And God used a storm to get his attention.

· How did Peter fail? He denied the Son of God. God used a sound to reclaim him– a crowing rooster.

· How did John Mark fail? He deserted the work of God.

God used a servant to reclaim him—Barnabas.

· How did David fail? He defiled the purity of God. God used a sermon to reclaim him.

This verse is one of the most sobering and stirring statements made by a struggling saint of God. Are there any struggling saints here today? I thought there might be. You need to know who said this, to whom the question is asked, and the postmark of this alarming question.

1. It was said by none other than John the Baptist.

2. It was asked to Jesus Christ.

3. It was said from Herod's dungeon in Machaerus, the royal castle of Herod, which faced the Dead Sea.

1. The Dungeon, Matthew 11:2.

Only a few months before John the Baptist was enjoying the freedom, the acclaim, and the notoriety as Israel's most recent prophet. It was John the Baptist who broke the 400-year silence between the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles. Crowds had gathered, hundreds and thousands had gone out to the Jordan River to hear him. His ministry was a giant exclamation mark!

He was the Forerunner of our Lord. George Goodwin sites three responsibilities as the Forerunner of Christ.

2. To clear the way.

3. To prepare the way.

4. To get out of the way!

John the Baptist's assignment was to be the announcer of the Savior. "Behold, the Lamb of John that taketh away the sin of the world." And added to John the Baptist's resume was that he baptized Jesus.

He was also Faithful to our Lord. John 5:35 says, "He was a burning and shining light." He was not a man of opinions which only cost a person his breath. He was a man of conviction, and that usually cost a person some blood. And so it naturally followed, John was a denouncer of sin, Luke 3:17-20. When he saw something that was not right, as God's prophet, he said something about it. And what did this get him? The dungeon!

Don't expect a reception in your honor when you decide to follow the Lord and stand up for Him. The exact opposite is more likely to occur. In this world, a consecrated child of God will get more bricks than bouquets, more mud than medals! For John, instead of a plaque and a promotion for his honesty and truthfulness he was given a prison!

This "jail time" was "hard time" for John the Baptist. He was an outdoors man and now he is confined between four walls. He was a vocal man, now he is a silenced man. He had announced judgment, but judgment was slow in coming. He was receiving only partial reports of Jesus' ministry and he could not see the total picture from his prison.

2. The Doubt, Matthew 11:3.

"Here in this dungeon of doubt John fell into depression and despair. This man who could reprove kings and call religious people snakes could get in the dumps even as you and I. It's one thing to stand on the Jordan and give it. It's another thing to sit in jail and take it," Vance Havner.

John was at an all-time low. It may have been a first-time low. The bright and shining light had gone into eclipse. John's ministry was exclamation point in the public, but now it is sagging in the private quarters of his cell and it becomes a question mark.

Maybe you are in a dungeon of doubt today. Is it had health? Financial troubles? Blood pressure up and back account down? You've prayed and gotten no answer. You've tithed and you still have needs. You raised your children in church and they have gone to the dogs.

"Lord, I don't understand." John the Baptist was in prison because he did what was right. He is in this dungeon because he is a Christian, not a criminal. And to make things even worse, Jesus didn't visit John in prison or send a six-part video series on "How to Be Happy in Prison." His circumstances very trying to rewrite his theology.

What's a person to do when God doesn't come through?

· Joseph was sold by his brothers and landed in prison because of a lying woman.

· Martha and Mary both said, "Lord, if thou hadst been here…"

· Paul had a thorn in the flesh and God was not in a thorn pulling mood.

· The three Hebrew men said to the king, "Our God is able...but if not." They were ready for a "but if not."

Suppose God doesn't come through like we think He should and on our schedule? The real test of your faith is not when God works a miracle, but when He chooses to do nothing at all!

And old Quaker prayed on morning, "God, I am not surprised that you have as few friends as you do because of the way you treat the ones you have."

John the Baptist asked, "Art thou He?" Satan questioned the identify of Christ. "If thou be the Son of God?" he asked on the mount of temptation, Luke 4:3. It should not surprise us if he causes us to question it.

· Doubt implies a state of belief, though it be weak.

· Doubt is to the spirit what pain is to the body.

· Doubt is faith in a sick condition.

· Doubt is faith in reverse.

· Doubt is faith going in the wrong direction.

Most of the time when we are in a state of doubt we are as confused as a termite in a yo-yo. We have no sense of direction. When you doubt there are two things to do:

. Do what John the Baptist did—take your doubt directly to Jesus. John wasn't giving up his belief.

. Do what Jesus told John the Baptist to do—remember your Bible. Jesus did not argue or attack John the Baptist. He simply said in so many words—get your mind back on the Bible Isaiah said Messiah would do these things, Isaiah 61:1. By the way, Jesus' first sermon was on Isaiah 61:1.

· How did John the Baptist fail? He doubted the purpose of God. God used a scripture to set him right.

After Vance Havner's wife died at 2:15 on a Sunday morning and he preached at 11:00am. He took Matthew 11:3 for his text. He said Jesus sent word back that He was running on schedule.

Look at verse 4-5. Vance Havner said he thought Jesus was telling John, "Bless is he whomsoever shall not get upset by the way I run my business." God is the Bookkeeper and the Timekeeper.

Jesus was the Messiah John predicted, He just wasn't the one John expected.

· Isaiah 8:14 says Jesus will either be a sanctuary or a stumbling-stone in your hour of trouble.

· Psalm 119:165, "Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them."

3.The Delight, Matthew 11:11.

The day John said the worse thing he ever said about Jesus was the very day Jesus said the best thing He ever said about John. Look at it in Matthew 11:11. "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist."

When God doesn't come through . . .

1. He is still God.

2. He still loves us.

Your faith may slip and slide at times. You may doubt and question. But God has an everlasting love for us. Jesus was not going to set aside John the Baptist for this single slip. John turned to Jesus in his hour of need and Jesus did not turn aside. Aren't you glad for the promise of Hebrews 13:5 "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

4. The Death, Matthew 14:3-12.

Beloved, John the Baptist was never delivered in this life from that prison. He ended up dying there. I like what A. T. Robertson said about this. "It was a blunt and brave thing that John said. It cost him his head, but it is better to have a head like John's and lose it, than to have an ordinary heard and keep it." Amen!

Death came and John the Baptist was taken from prison to paradise.

The two disciples made their way back to John who brought this news, "John, you were right all along! The search is over — Jesus is Messiah."

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