Sunday, January 17, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Disappointed with Jesus"

“Disappointed with Jesus”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
January 17, 2009
Luke 7:17-35

I want to ask you a trick question.

You ready?
Here’s the trick the question: Are you greater than John the Baptist?

What do you want to say to that question?

Probably, “No,” Right?

But you know it’s a trick question.  So, you answer, “Yes.”

And “Yes” it is if you are a part of Jesus’ kingdom. 

Jesus Himself says that you are greater than John the Baptist.

We’re going to see that this morning.

Here’s what else we’re going to see.

We’re going to see two different kinds of people who are (at least for the moment) disappointed with Jesus.  “Disappointed with Jesus.”
And strangely enough, one of them is John the Baptist.

Here’s a question for you that’s not a trick question.

Are you disappointed with Jesus?

Have you ever been?

Are you finding Jesus to be all that you expected?

Or are you wondering if maybe you’re missing something when it comes to Jesus?

That’s actually how John the Baptist was feeling.

Last week, Jesus was amazing.  He healed the centurion’s servant without even looking at him, without even going to him.  He was healed just by Jesus’ amazing authority.

And He brought back from the dead[!] the son of the widow of Nain–and just with a compassionate look and an authoritative word–completely amazing!

And word about Jesus’ amazing activities begins to spread.  Chapter 7, verse 17.

“This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.  John's [which John is that?  John the Baptist’s] disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’” Let’s stop there for a second.

John the Baptist sends a pretty negative question with his messengers, doesn’t he?

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Why do you think that John asked this question?

I mean, he’s just heard some stories about healings and even resurrection!

But John seems somewhat disappointed.

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

There was a time when John thought he knew the answer.

Jesus was the One to Come!

John baptized Him!  And heard the voice of God!

John pointed Him out to his disciples and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

But at this moment, John is still believing but struggling to believe.

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Why do you think that John asked this question?

Well, for starters, where is John right now?  Anybody remember what learned about John in chapter 3?

John is in prison.  He was probably in the gloomiest prison in Israel called the Machaerus, a desert fortress “perched on a desolate high ridge by the Dead Sea, where today the remains of the castle’s dungeons can still be seen, complete with iron hooks” (Kent Hughes, “Luke Vol 1," pg. 267).

And according to Jesus’ own words in chapter 4, what was supposed to happen to the captives when the Messiah came?   “Freedom for the prisoners? I don’t see that happening,” John could say.

More than that.  Jesus has been doing His thing now for a little bit of time, and what has happened to Rome?

Nothing.  A Roman centurion’s servant was healed.  But nothing more.  Rome has not been overthrown.  Israel has not taken its place as the head of the nations.  Not yet.

More than that.  What did John say that the Messiah would do?

Remember chapter 3?  John’s call to repentance?

John said, “I baptize you with water.  But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.  He will baptize you with fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” [3:16-17].

Where’s the fire, Jesus?

Where’s the judgment?

Is it coming?

I’ve been preaching repentance and righteousness and judgment!  And I’m in jail for it.

Where’s the fire?

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

I know that you’re special.  I know the story about your birth.  I did your baptism.

But “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Can you identify with John’s disappointment?

In today’s passage there are two kinds of disappointment with Jesus.

One is okay as long as it is experienced in faith and is temporary.

The other is not okay.

John’s is the first kind. And we’ll call it this:


I expected something different, and I’m struggling with that.

I’m disappointed.  I thought that Jesus would do this.  Or that.

And He keeps doing this, and I don’t know what to do with it.

Jesus is not what I expected.

That’s how John the Baptist was feeling.

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  To do all the rest of the things that we expected the Messiah to do?

Have you felt that way yourself?

Last week, I was talking to an old acquaintance who has followed the Lord pretty faithfully over the years, but his children are not following the Lord right now.

In fact, his daughter doesn’t even want to be associated with the Lord or with the church right now.  Won’t even get her picture taken for the church directory, you know what I mean?

Here’s her problem.  She’s seen how her father has tried to follow Jesus, but she doesn’t see the blessing that she expected.

He’s had health problems.
He’s lost his job.
Their church wen through a major conflict.

And she says, “I don’t see where your following Jesus has gotten you anything but more trouble.”

My friend is puzzled by those things, too. But He knows that following Jesus is not always what we expect it to be.

How many missionaries were in Haiti this week when the earthquake hit?

How many died?  We don’t know yet.

I think we can understand how someone would be struggling with disappointment with Jesus in that situation.

Jesus is not always what we expect.
Are you going through a hard time right now and struggling with disappointment with Jesus?

A relationship?
A marriage?
A cancer?
A heart problem?
A physical ailment?
A family breakdown?
A difficulty on the job?
A financial crisis?
A crisis pregnancy?

Are you finding yourself saying, “Maybe I missed something.”

Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

This is not what I expected!

Maybe you’ve been sinned against in a major way, and you find yourself asking with John, “Where is the fire, Lord?!”

Notice that John doesn’t give up on Jesus.  He believes, he’s just struggling to believe.  He doesn’t understand so he goes to Jesus with his question.

Of course, he can’t go to Jesus, so he sends his question.  And they ask it.  V.20

“When the men came to Jesus, they said, ‘John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'  At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.  So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: 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. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.’”

Notice that Jesus doesn’t just dismiss John.

“John has questions? John has doubts? John has disappointments?  Well, goodbye John and good riddance.”  No. Uh uh.

Jesus knows that John believes but is struggling with disappointment.

And so He sends back a faith-building answer.

First, He does a bunch of miracles.  Then, He says, “Tell John about these miracles.

I’m not just a prophet. These are messianic miracles.  These are the things that are supposed to happen when the Messiah comes.

I may not be doing everything you expect right now (though you don’t know everything I’m up to), but these things are proof that I am the One Who Was to Come.”

And He ends with this beatitude: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Hang in there.
Trust me.
Don’t stumble over me.

I know that I’m not what you expect, but I am what you need.

“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

I am the Messiah.  I am fulfilling the promises.

I am doing it my way.  And on my timetable.

I know that I’m not what you expect, but I am what you need.

“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Do you need to hear that this morning?

If you are trusting the Lord and following Him by faith, you are not missing something if you are going through a trial.

There is not some better way out there–some other way that you are missing.

This is just how Jesus is doing it.

I know that’s it not what you expected.  But He’s worth it to hold on.

Jesus is saying, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

I know that I’m not what you expect, but I am exactly what you need.”

Hang in there.

Now, after John’s messengers took this answer back to the Baptist, Jesus turns to the crowd and praises John.

Isn’t that interesting?

Just in case we were tempted to dismiss John as missing the boat or somehow a defective follower of Jesus for having some doubts, Jesus sings his praises.  V.24

“After John's messengers left, 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? [No!  John is no reed!]  If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. [Look at that fox Herod if you want that!]  But what 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 [in Malachi 3]: ‘'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'”

John is more than a prophet!  V.28

“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John [but catch this]; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Oh, oh, oh!

Here’s the answer to that trick question:

“I tell you, among those born of women [what other kind are there?] there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Now, this is not saying that John wasn’t in the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ point has to do with what time it is.

The time is changing.

Verse 28 says that no one born of women is greater than John.

That means Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David were all lesser than John.

Not in every way!  But in what way?

How close they were to Jesus’s coming, Jesus’ cross, Jesus’ resurrection, and Jesus’ Kingdom.

John was a bridge between the Old Covenant and the New.

And He was a prophet–but more than that–he got to be THE prophet who said, “This is it!  Jesus IS the Messiah.  Jesus IS the Lamb of God.  He’s here!”

And so he got a greater position than all who came before Him.

But you and I have a better position now than even he had!

We are on this side of the Cross, this side of the Empty Tomb, this side of the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost, this side of the Kingdom being inaugurated and coming in a slow and steady and often invisible but undeniable way!

We are in the Kingdom of God!  And the least of us is greater than John the Baptist.


Does that do something for your disappointments?

It should.

It should be thrilling for us.  And humbling.  And faith-building.

That’s what it did for those who believe in Jesus in verse 29.

“(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John.  But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)”

Two kinds of people there, right?

Those who received and those who rejected.

Those who were baptized by John and those who had not.

Now, the point wasn’t the water–it never really is.

What was the point of John’s baptism?  It was a baptism of what?


There were some who received Jesus because they were repentant.

And there were others who rejected Jesus and refused to repent.

How does verse 30 say it, “[They] rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized [for repentance] by John.”

Wow.  What a thing to say, “[They] rejected God’s purpose for themselves.”

Don’t let your disappointments take you there.

These folks are the examples of the second kind of disappointments with Jesus.

An unacceptable kind of disappointment.

We’ll call it this:  


Jesus doesn’t do what I want, so I’m not going to follow Him.

That’s the problem, Jesus says, in verse 31.

“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation [the people who won’t repent, the people who won’t follow, who won’t believe]? What are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.' For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’  But wisdom is proved right by all her children.’”

I love how Jesus uses word pictures to teach.

Here he’s got a little story that contrasts two kinds of children.

Bratty children and wise children.

The brats demand that Jesus (and John) play by their rules.

“Hey, John!  How about a little dancing here!  You’re a little somber.
Hey, Jesus!  How about a little crying here!  You’re a little too happy.
We’re playing the music!  Dance to our tune!  Let’s go!”

And then they pout when they don’t get their own way.

There is no pleasing them.  So they are disappointed.

Why?  Because John and [especially!] Jesus don’t dance to their tune.

Jesus is not what I demand.

“But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

If you want to be wisdom’s child, you have to submit to Jesus.

You have to do things, His way.

You have to repent.  And you have to surrender.  You have to give up your rights.

And dance to His tune.

There are many many people in the world who are disappointed that Jesus doesn’t do things the way they want.

And there is hell to pay for that kind of an attitude.

Don’t go to Hell!

Turn around and trust in Jesus.

Be wisdom’s child and repent while you can.

Because for all eternity, there will be nothing disappointing about Jesus!

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus