Sunday, October 28, 2018

[Matt's Messages] “Are You the One?”

“Are You the One?”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
October 28, 2018 :: Matthew 11:1-24 

Verse 1 of Matthew chapter 11 indicates a transition in the Gospel of Matthew. Chapter 10 was all about the mission that Jesus was giving His apostles and what they could expect to happen to them when they went on that mission. And it wasn’t all good and happy and positive.

Jesus told them, in fact, to expect opposition. To expect hostility. And one of the reasons why was because Jesus, their lord, would be experiencing hostility Himself.

And really in chapter 11 and 12 that hostility begins to really heat up.

We already know where that hostility ends up. It ends up culminating on an old rugged cross outside of Jerusalem.

Jesus has met some opposition so far, but from here on, it really builds.

And it begins to force some people to rethink Jesus.

Including John the Baptist.

Do you remember him?

We met him back in chapter 3. 

John’s message was, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And he also said, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Remember that?

This is the guy who baptized Jesus and then the Holy Spirit came down like a dove and the voice of God the Father gushed over His Son.

Well, chapter 4 verse 12 told us that John had been put in prison.

Herod Antipas put John into prison for preaching all this stuff about repentance.

And I’m not sure how much time has gone by, John is still in prison.

And he’s starting to have some questions and some doubts.

I mean, he knows what he’s seen and what he’s heard, and he believes it all, but he’s starting to think that maybe he has misinterpreted what he has seen and heard.

And he can’t get out of prison to ask his questions, so he sends some of his followers to ask Jesus one key question.

“Are You the One?”

Let’s read verses 1 through 3.

“After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’”

Let me ask you a question as we get started here.

Is Jesus who you thought He was?

Or let me ask it like this:

Has your understanding of who Jesus is changed over time as you’ve gotten to know Him?

Is Jesus who you thought He was?

Now, some of you, I’m sure would say that you’ve just about always had the same idea of Who Jesus is though it’s grown and matured and strengthened over time.

You were well taught from infancy.

So the Jesus you thought He was, as you got to know Him in the Bible and in your own personal relationship with Him is just about the same as you always expected Him to be.

But many of the rest of you would probably say that you’ve been pretty surprised to find out Who Jesus really is. What Jesus is really like.

As you read the gospels, you get a very different picture than what you had always expected.

Jesus often turns our expectations upside down.

He doesn’t do what we always thought He would do.

I think that’s at the heart of John’s question.

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

The first thing I want you to see is that it’s okay to have doubts and questions.

We’re going to see in a moment that Jesus thought very highly of John. He doesn’t get mad at John in the slightest for airing his doubts and asking his questions.

It’s okay to have questions and to try find answers.

Some of you here have big questions about Jesus. And about whether this whole Christianity thing is true or not.

That’s great. I’m glad you are asking your questions. And I’m glad you’re here today.

There are answers for your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

Notice what John does with these questions. He takes them (or sends them as the case may be) to Jesus. This is not unbelief. He doesn’t talk Jesus down or run away from Jesus because of his questions. He goes to Jesus with his questions.

And he seeks answers.

And specifically, he asks, “Are you the one?”

“Are you the one who was to come?”

I think it must have been hard for John to languish in prison like that when the Messiah was supposed “set the captives free.” Right?

And John had said that the one who was to come would baptize with the Spirit and with fire.

“Where’s the fire?!

The one who is to come is supposed to have a winnowing fork and clean house and gather the wheat and burn up the chaff.

Where’s the fire?!

Or am I missing something?

Is this the kingdom?

Are you the one who is to come?

Or am I missing something? Are we supposed to be looking still for someone else beyond you?”

What’s the answer to that question?

Do you feel that question?

Do you sometimes wonder if Jesus was Who He was supposed to be?

If Jesus is ___________, then how come He __________ ?

Is Jesus who you thought He was?

Is Jesus who John thought He was?

What is the answer to that?

We already know the right answer.

Everybody in this room knows the right answer.

For 126 years this church has stood for the right answer to that question.

But at the moment, John wasn’t so sure that he had it right.

And it’s a really important question. There are few more important questions in the whole world. Everything rides on it.

“Are you the one?”

Here’s how Jesus answered. Verse 4.

“Jesus replied, ‘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. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.’”

I think that’s a YES.

Jesus doesn’t come out and say it. He shows it. He says, “What is the kingdom supposed to be like? What did Isaiah 35 say? What did Isaiah 61 say the kingdom was going to be like?  Was it the blind being able to see again? Was it the lame being able to walk again? Was it the lepers being cured? Was it the deaf being able to hear again? Was it the dead coming back to life? Was it the poor hearing the gospel?

Well, those things are happening right here, right now because I am here.

And I believe from that moment on John the Baptist did not falter.

He had his answer.

“Yes, I’m the One.”

Now, you and I knew that was going to be the case already.

So, I want to focus on the results of getting the answer right and on getting the answer the wrong. Because that’s where Jesus goes with it next.

Did you see that big powerful word in verse 6?

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


Same word as the sermon on the mount.

Same word as the beatitudes.

We translated it “flourishing” a few months.

Flourishing is the man who does NOT fall away on account me.

Flourishing is the person who decides that even if Jesus seems different than they initially expected, they will stick with Him to the end.

The person who answers the question “Is Jesus the One Who was to come?” with a big old YES will be BLESSED.


Do you see that?

Now, there’s a mild rebuke there. Or at least a warning to John to not fall away. To not bail on Jesus halfway there.

On account of Jesus not being what he thought Jesus would be like.

Don’t go there, Jesus says.

Because if you go there, you won’t get this blessing.

You won’t flourish.

The person who answers the question “Is Jesus the One Who was to come?” with a big old YES will be BLESSED.

That’s where the flourishing is.

That’s why this church is centered on the Person and Work of Jesus.

For 126 years we have sought to glorify God by bringing people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus WHAT...Christ! Messiah!

We have proclaimed to this community that Jesus Christ is the One Who was to come.

And that if you trust Him and not fall way, you will be unimaginably blessed.

That’s the gospel, isn’t it?

And that’s what we are all about and have been all of these years.

And that’s what we are about today.

Do you know Jesus as your own Lord and Savior?

Do you know Jesus as your Messiah and King?

Have you answered this question with a trusting “Yes?!”

Then you will be blessed. You will find life. Eternal life. And eternal flourishing.

Even if you have to go to prison and they chop off your head.

Because that’s what’s going to happen to John in chapter 14.

But I’m sure that He was blessed.

And I’m sure that He is flourishing right now and will forever.

Jesus has more to say to about John. V.7

“As John's disciples were leaving [with Jesus’ answer for him], 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? [I doubt it. John was not a weather-vane, a weak man who did what others expected him to.] If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? [Like a slick and smiling televangelist?] No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. [And this guy did not wear fine clothes. And he is in the king’s jail, not his palace.] Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

This [John] 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.' I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

You see how He talks about him?

He’s not mad at John. He thinks John is the greatest man who ever lived up to this point.


Because John has been, all along, pointing people to Jesus as the Messiah.

Because John knew the right answer to this question and had dedicated his life to telling people about it.

And he’s paid for it dearly. V.12

“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. [Now that’s a difficult verse to translate, but I think that it simply means that the kingdom has been under attack, and it’s still under attack by people like Herod Antipas. And this shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody because He’s just told them that they are going to be sent like sheep among the wolves. There are wolves out there, and they eat sheep. But don’t worry. They can’t really hurt you! V.13] For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.  He who has ears, let him hear.”

Do you see what He’s saying?

He’s saying that John stood at a very special place in history.

He was the last prophet of the Old Testament and He got to tip everybody into the New Testament.

He got to say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John was the fulfillment of that passage in Malachi that Peter preached here a couple of weeks ago. Malachi 4.

He came in the spirit and the power of Elijah.

He was the voice in the wilderness saying, “Here comes the Lord!”

Yes, Jesus is the One Who was to come!

Now, don’t miss what Jesus said about you and me in verse 11.

Did you catch it?

Let’s come back to it in a minute.

It’s so good, we’ll end with it.

But, first, let’s consider what happens if you answer this question incorrectly.

What happens if you get it totally wrong?

Well, it’s the opposite of blessing.

Jesus uses the word “Woe.”


It’s cursing. It’s judgment. It’s trouble and danger and woe.

And, sadly, that’s what was coming for many in Jesus’ day because they were rejecting Him. V.16

“‘To what can I compare this generation [of people rejecting me]? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' [Nothing would make you happy. You didn’t play along.] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’ 'But wisdom is proved right by her actions. [The proof is in the pudding.]’”

Do you get the picture?

It’s like one group of children playing, “Simon says.”

And the other spoiled group doesn’t play along.

“No way am I going to do what this Simon guy says!

I don’t care if it’s something I even want to do. I’m not doing it.”

Nothing makes them happy. They are full of excuses. Always an excuse.

If John fasts, they say, “What’s wrong with him? He gotta demon or something?”

But Jesus comes along and feasts and they say, “Why’s He doing that with those people? Doesn’t he know that them’s those people?”

They were rejecting both John and Jesus. Even though wisdom would say that they were obviously telling the truth.

These people wouldn’t play God’s game, no matter what.

So Jesus pronounces woe. V.20

“Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for [for those pagan cities] Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you [who should know better]. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom [sinful Sodom!], it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.’”

If you ultimately answer this question with “No,” then it will be woe for you.

Notice a couple things about this passage.

Jesus knows what might have been.

Theologians call that “middle knowledge.”

Jesus knows what might have been under different circumstances.

He knows every move on the chess board and what would happen if different moves were made. Every contingency.

That’s amazing.

He doesn’t normally tell us.

Often it wouldn’t be good for us to know “what would have happened if.”

But He always knows.

And that helps me to trust Him.

Notice also that Jesus thinks that He is a very big deal.

Doesn’t He?

We’re always saying, “Who does Jesus think He is?”

Well, obviously, from this passage Jesus thinks that our eternal destiny hinges on whether or not we believe that He is the one was to come.

And these cities who saw Him do the miracles were rejecting Him.

And Jesus says that they did so at their own peril.

Notice also that you can see miracles and not believe.

Miracles don’t guarantee faith. They can strengthen faith. They can point to what to believe. But they can always be ignored or explained away or rejected, too.

And also notice that the fire is still to come.

John the Baptist wasn’t wrong about the fire.

He wasn’t wrong about the winnowing fork or clearing the threshing floor or the chaff being burned up.

He just didn’t know the timing.

When Jesus came the first time, He came to save.

When Jesus comes again, He will rescue His people, but He will come to judge.

Woe to you if you answer this question wrongly.

“I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

That day of judgement is still to come.

Are you ready for it?

For 126 years, this church has proclaimed salvation through Jesus and the return of Jesus to fulfill all of God’s promises and all of God’s threats.

If you ultimately answer the question “Is Jesus the one who was to come” with NO, there will be nothing for you but woe. The fire is still to come.

If that’s you right now, I call upon you to repent.

To turn and trust in Jesus.

Because He is everything He was promised to be. And so much more.

And if you do, you will be blessed.

You will flourish both now and forever.

Let’s go back to verse 11.

Don’t miss this.

You and I are in verse 11.

“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women [which is everybody] there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

How about that?!

Did you know how blessed you are?

If you are in the kingdom of heaven, you are greater than John the Baptist.

Even if you are the least in the kingdom, you are greater than John the Baptist.

And He was primo-great!

How come?

John did not live to see the Cross or the Resurrection.

He only could see it from before.

But we live after.

We live on this side of the Cross and the Empty Tomb.

The New Covenant is not just promised but in effect.

The Holy Spirit that John foretold, has come, and is in you right now if you are a believer!

Lanse Free Church, every believer here is greater than John the Baptist, and that’s saying a lot.

We are so blessed!

Not because we are so great, but because Jesus is the One Who was to come.


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission