“Are you the Coming One, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus responded, “Tell John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.”
INI + AMEN.
Doubt is a pesky thing. It’s part of life. So is uncertainty. They go together. They affect, infect all parts of our life. And it’s not just our life of service and love toward those around us. They infect our love, our faith toward God, too. Doubt in that area is called unfaith, unbelief.
Doubt or unfaith are opposites of confidence, faith, or trust. The Lord would have us “fear, love, and trust in Him above all things,” but we don’t. We forsake Him, His Word, and His Gifts, finding time for other “better” things. We forsake others, lashing out, judging, mocking, treating them badly. This also flows from doubt and unbelief.
But this isn’t “doubt in the Lord” Sunday. It’s “Rejoice in the Lord always” Sunday. Why? Because our Lord’s got a solution, a cure for our doubt, our unbelief. That’s what we get to rejoice about today, and really every Sunday: what our Lord does for doubters.
((2. We all have doubts.))
Uncertainty and doubt. That’s just life in general, isn’t it? We second guess if not everything, most things. Have I made the right decisions about my life? My kids? My farm? Lots of windshield time to think about that sort of stuff. Lots of time for John the Baptizer, too. He’d thrown his lot in with Jesus. He preached Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Then he ended up in prison. Who wouldn’t second guess your life choices at that point?
But it’s not just that John was doubting his prophetic career path. We don’t just doubt about our life choices in general either. We have doubts about our Lord: who He is, what He does, how He is toward us. We doubt Him. If anyone says they don’t, then they’re probably lying. We all have doubts. John the Baptist’s doubt proves it, doesn’t it? It should. Think about it: he’d powerfully preached repentance and forgiveness, he’d baptized sinners, he’d leapt in Elizabeth’s womb to greet Jesus in Mary’s womb, and he had doubts!
But we don’t want to be honest about our doubts. We don’t want to face them. Confess them. We cover them up, hide them. Doubt is scary. Uncertainty is scarier still. Truth is all preachers, pastors, prophets have doubts. All Christians do, too. We’re sinners. Sinners doubt. So it was with John: “Are you the Coming One, or should we expect Someone else?” So it is with you and me. Maybe something’s happened, maybe lots of things have happened, maybe some things don’t make sense, or maybe you just question, wonder, doubt, or are afraid. It doesn’t really matter, now, does it?
((1. Jesus saves doubters.))
So, what’s the cure? Well, it’s why we can rejoice today. It’s why we lighten our advent hope and repentance to pink, today. The cure is why Jesus advents in the first place, and there’s no “let go and let god”, no “God’s gotta plan” with Him. Absolutely none of that! No, He’s flogged for your lack of faith. He dies for your doubt. He’s buried for your unbelief. He rises for your righteousness! In short, Jesus advents to save sinners, to deliver doubters.
That’s what He does for John. He doesn’t put anything on John at all. He doesn’t say, “Well, now John, you’ve been a believer for some time now, you’re a great prophet who should know better, and now you just need to pull it together. Get back on track.” Jesus doesn’t even tell him: “Stop doubting”! He knows John’s condition. Jesus knows that in the deafening silence of his prison cell, in his chains and darkness, the only thing that will give life and light is the preaching of Himself. So, Jesus sends preachers to John to tell him that Jesus is seeking and saving the lost, He’s delivering the bound, and He’s preaching that He’s the Savior from sin, death, devil, and even doubt! Why does Jesus send preachers? Gift delivers? “Stewards of the mysteries”? He knows faith will result. “Tell John what you hear and see. The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.”
Jesus works to save John, you, and every other doubter out there. Everyone who’s uncertain gets delivered right to them what is most certain. Jesus’ own Words and His Works. What He’s done for you is delivered right to you: into your ears with the preaching of His death and resurrection for you. He splashed it right over your forehead in the Water and Word of Holy Baptism. Right into your ears with the Absolution. Right into your mouth with His body and blood. He just does it. He knows you and your doubts. He gives you the cure, the solution: Himself, His Word, His Gifts. You’re forgiven. You’re saved. You’ll rise from the dead. No doubt about any of that. It’s Font, Pulpit, Altar certain. Death and resurrection certain. Jesus certain.
Yes, doubt is a pesky thing. It’s a deadly, hell-worthy thing! But Jesus has the cure. It’s why we rejoice today. Rejoice always!
JESUS CURES YOUR DOUBT WITH CERTAIN THINGS: HIS WORD AND HIS WORK FOR YOU.
It’s why He came—for John, for you, for all. There’s no “He’s got a plan” pep talk. He doesn’t leave you alone with your doubt, your pain, you. He just delivers you. Dies and rises. That’s His work for you. He continues to work for you: absolving you, body-and-blood-ing you. Most certain. Most sure. Again and again. He does it. Not you. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, ‘Rejoice.’” JESUS CURES YOUR DOUBT WITH CERTAIN THINGS: HIS WORD AND HIS WORK FOR YOU. He really will. He really does.
INI + AMEN.