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Doubt His Presence—Part 2

June 4, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture—Matthew 11:7-10 (NRSV)

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What, then, did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What, then, did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
+++who will prepare your way before you.”

Focus

Jesus calmed John’s doubts about whether Jesus is the one by using miracles to remind him. But doubts about Jesus always mean or lead to doubts about ourselves; doubts about our own identity. Jesus reminded John that he was the one—the prophet—in language that sounded awfully similar to John’s language about Jesus: “This is the one about whom it is written” (Matthew 11:10). In one statement Jesus affirms John’s value and ironically ours also.

Devotion

While John the Baptist was in prison he came to the intersection of misaligned expectations and reality. John’s disposition shifted from the confident prophet who said “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) to the uncertain one who sent his disciples asking “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matthew 11:5) Jesus addressed his doubt by sending the disciples back with miracles that they had seen with their own eyes.

This is where Jesus shows us what it means to be human, what it means to affirm the dignity of humans but not to stop with cordialities of affirmation—to also affirm the dignity of a person’s calling and value.

Perhaps John’s disciples did not hear what he said in verses 7-15, but even if they did not hear Jesus it would not have been any less true about John. But if they did hear it, the disciples went back to John with more than miracles—more than signs pointing again to Jesus. They did not simply go back to John and remind him who Jesus was, they went back and reminded John who John was also.

Jesus asks the crowd of potential disciples a simple question and then answers it for them. When you went out into that wilderness, he asked, did you go looking for someone wavering and doubtful? Did you go looking for someone of nobility because of their appearance? No. You went into the uncertain wilderness to find someone certain that they were supposed to be there because they were sent by God.

Jesus calmed John’s doubts about whether Jesus is the one by using miracles to remind him. But doubts about Jesus always mean or lead to doubts about ourselves; doubts about our own identity. Jesus reminded John that he was the one—the prophet—in language that sounded awfully similar to John’s language about Jesus: “This is the one about whom it is written” (Matthew 11:10). In one statement Jesus affirms John’s value and ironically ours also:

Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist, yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matthew 11:11).

Doubt will arise in life. Moments of uncertainty will come. One only needs to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, let alone take missteps or hard steps from previous missteps. It is conceivable that we might doubt His presence. But if John, the cousin of Jesus, called to be the forerunner of the lamb of God, baptizer of the son of God and present at the Trinity’s involvement can be affirmed while he is in prison, then surely Jesus can remind you who you are and your value also. You are not a reed shaken by the wind; your doubt does not make you worthless even if you are in a proverbial or literal prison. Even if you’re the least by someone’s standard, in the kingdom you are still great by the kingdom’s standard.

Reflect

What does doubt do to you?

What can you recall from the lives and the words in scripture about how to deal with doubt?

Act

Remember your creator and what he says about his own. Try to write down all the truths about the children of God that scripture says we are. Read your list and answer this: if you belong to Christ, are any of these not true? If you have value to God in his kingdom, take some time and lean into what that means for your day tomorrow.

Prayer

When we are uncertain about our identities and find misalignment in a fallen world, take us back to what we know is true about your Son.  Help us, Father, to be disciples who look for your Son, the sovereign one, the one who never loses, the glorified, reigning, king over all creation in all glory, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Signs of the Messiah


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