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Jesus, Are You the One?

by Dubby in Topeka

based on Matthew 11:2-10

The Advent Question: "Jesus, Are You the One?" Jesus' Advent: "Yes! My works bear witness to it!" Jesus' Advent: "Yes! My Forerunner foretold it!"

Introduction It's those nagging "back-in-the-head" questions we've experienced. It's the boy who's grown up as a Christian all his life who all of a sudden studies science and begins to ask himself, "Where is the God of the six- day creation?" As he hears the logic of evolution and billions of years, he asks, "Was it really the Flood or a long process of time that happened by chance?" As he further studies the scientific method with its proof centered on experiments and numbers, he asks, "Where is the God of miracles? I would call a liar any person here this morning who has not experienced doubt or questioned some aspect of their faith, the person who has never asked, "What if the Bible way isn't the way? What if it's got it all wrong? How can I believe that it's really God's book? What if I'm being schnookered and being played the fool? Am I believing right or wrong? Am I being led or misled? Asking these questions is not meant to stir up even more doubt about what you believe this morning. It's not meant to pull the carpet from underneath your feet. But it's always good for us to look down and see on what our faith is standing. Where do you know where to stand in your faith. Jesus grabs our faith and guides it into solid footings. Go ahead! Ask the question: "Jesus, Are You the One?" or should we be looking for another?" Is it Your Word or should we be looking for more? And Jesus' answers, "Yes, I'm the one. I'll prove it with my works. It simply fulfills what John the Forerunner foretold about me.

I. "Yes! My works bear witness to it!" Doubts! They can bring the anguish of hell as they begin to eat into our soul. What causes doubts in our lives and to our faith? The answer is illustrated by the life of John the Baptist. Before his birth an angel announced the purpose of John's life like this: ""He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go on before the Lord ... to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. John's ministry was one step ahead of Jesus' ministry: to announce the coming of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." And so for three years, he readied the hearts and minds of the crowds who swarmed out in the Judean wilderness to hear his outdoor sermons. He proclaimed: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And he baptized people with a baptism of repentance in the waters of the Jordan River. Thus his name: John the Baptizer. And then tragedy struck. His sermons about unrepentant sin struck a little too close to home. The Pharisees, members of the Righteous Tribe ... they were the "Holier than Thou's" who prided themselves on how holy they lived compared to everyone else. The Pharisees didn't care for John's finger pointing at them and accusing them of hiding behind outward piety to cover up inward envy and pride in themselves. The final straw fell when John stood up and denounced to his face a king called Herod because he was living in an adulterous marriage. And so Herod jailed John. John would never see the light of freedom again. John, the once powerful preacher has time to think and reflect. It's here that we find John this morning: behind bars for preaching the truth about God's Word. It's here we sit with him and imagine the countless hours of confinement. We can imagine John's disciples dejected and depressed as they wonder what will become of him. But we need not imagine the devil tempting John and his disciples with doubt. Had John introduced the right "Lamb of God?" Was Jesus the one or simply basking in quick fame due to mistaken identity? And so imprisoned John sends his disciples on a fact-finding mission: "Are you the Christ or should we wait for another?" There's a reason why John asked Jesus if he was "the Christ." That was the most well- known name in all of Israel. The Messiah, the Anointed One who was foretold for thousands of years. Are you it? Are you Jesus that promised one who would fulfill Isaiah's prophecy of one "anointed to preach good news to the poor ... to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners?" (Is. 61:1-2) Are you it? Jesus answered: "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor." Well if that doesn't answer the question, I don't know what does! John's question: "Are you Jesus the fulfillment of God's promises, those "hand-me-down promises dads taught their children to remember ... those incredibly heartwarming, hope- working promises ... reported to us by O.T. prophets ... are they true? And what an answer Jesus gives them! I hope Jesus' answer made you think, "Hey, Jesus' words sound an awful lot like our first lesson this morning from Isaiah. If you did, your absolutely right! Jesus' answer is from chapter 35. He is the One! So John, if your doubting or if you want your disciples to be bolstered in their faith that Jesus is the One, look at the evidence that you can see with your eyes and hear with your ears. This is no computer enhanced answer like those people who lose 200 lbs and then crawl back into their size 86 pants. Jesus's miracles are not computer enhanced or touched up ... you could actually with people formerly deaf, watch a person staring in wonderment at the world around him that he's seeing for the first time because he had been blind all of his life ... but not anymore! Watch as the person you always knew as a cripple skipping around like a little kid, talk to a mother who lived in Nain and was escorting the casket of her dead son out of the city with heartbroken sobs and watch her hug her that son .. no longer a corpse but alive because Jesus raised him from the dead. But the best part ... open your ears and just listen! This advent season, as you take in the smells of pine trees, fresh cookies, holiday pot pourri, and taste egg nog, tune up your ears and just listen! As Jesus said, "the good news is preached to the poor!" Poor people are not welfare people, the economically poor due to unfortunate circumstances. These are people like John the Baptist languishing in a jail cell. His disciples wondering what's to become of them. This is the oppressed and disillusioned person who this morning may be saying, "We believe in Jesus. But then something happiness — a divorce, a loss of a job, an illness, a child in trouble — and we wonder: This is the person who tries to follow Jesus: "I'm a good person. I try to live a good life. So how come this divorce, this job loss, this illness, this rebel child is happening to me? This is the person who takes inventory of life and realizes how poor in righteousness they are, who realize they have nothing to offer to God in payment for all their sins, who recognize that they can't go through a single day without stumbling and straying into some kind of stupidity. Where have you stumbled lately: anger get the best of you? Money matters caused you to overreact? Lack of love in your words left you lonely because you harshly drove them away? Yes, it's you who feel so poor in spirit ... it's especially to you that Jesus answers, "I'm the One! Yes, the good news is preached to those who feel oppressed. This lowly-looking and humble Christ not only has power over sick bodies and dead bodies, but power over the souls that live in bodies — your body. His power not only heals the skin of the leper but also his heart as well. The good news to poor, humble, contrite, and repentant sinners is that "where sin increased, grace increased all the more ... so that grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.5:20,21). "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them" (2 Cor. 5:19). The Gospel Good News to the poor is that "we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through is poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). Doubt is the devil's greatest power. He thinks he's hot stuff if he can get you to doubt anything about Jesus. And the greatest way he gets people to doubt Jesus and his Word is when he cuts them off from the Savior. (If Henry Blakley is attending, use him as an example). The person whose having trouble breathing gets hooked up to oxygen and can breathe again. Take away the supply of oxygen, and he begins to turn blue. Rupture a leaf from its stem, it turns yellow. They are the danger colors of death. Cut a person off from Christ and watch the color of doubt grow. The longer they stay away from Christ and His Word, the more doubt grows and spiritual life fades. Ever seen it before? In others? In yourself? It's true, isn't it? Jesus said, "Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." The thought of Christ will do one of two things to a person: repulse them or pull them. The cross either drives people away by its simplistic message of salvation by the sweat and suffering of Jesus and not yours, or it becomes the bulletin board on which every one of our disgusting sins is posted and then canceled. Conquer doubt this Advent season with the sound of Jesus' declaring his works as a witness that He's the Real Deal and if he's the genuine article, your Lord and Savior, then your sins are forgiven and Christmas forever in heaven is yours!

II. Yes, My Forerunner foretold it! After John's disciples left bolstered with Jesus' answer of "Yes, I am the One," he turns to the crowd who'd been listening him answer John's question. Lest there be those who forget all about John and consider him unimportant because now Jesus had arrived on the scene, Jesus himself pays tribute to John, his Forerunner. Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Imagine that! Thousands of people going out to watch a common plant sway back and forth! How boring! The obvious answer is, "No, people didn't hike into the wilderness to camp out and test their survival skills in the desert. So Jesus continues, "What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces." John's work-clothes was rugged and rough clothing made out of camel's hair, not fine-feeling velvet or silk like you'd find in a king's palace. So finally Jesus asks, "What did you go out to see? Prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: (and here's a prophecy that was fulfilled from Malachi 3:1 when John the Baptist was born) ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." You mean to tell us, Jesus, that John is greater than Elijah, or Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Daniel, and all of those great prophets in the O.T.? You bet! O.T. prophets pointed Jesus from afar hundreds of years before his arrival. John actually physically pointed at Jesus and announced his arrival! No other prophet in the world had that honor! It belongs to John the Baptist alone! Friends, piece John the Baptist together with Jesus Christ and the Advent picture is complete. Without John the Baptist's calling us to repentance for the kingdom of God is near, how will we be ready for the one whom John says, "will come after me who is more powerful than I?" (Matt. 3:11).

Conclusion So go ahead! Ask the advent question: "Jesus, are you really the One?" But like John, steer yourself to Jesus and His Word and listen to his answer: "Yes, I am the One. The good news of my wonderful miracles that bring healing to ailments of body and mind, but especially the washing and cleansing to sin-sick souls by the cross, now that proves, I'm the One!" Amen.