The story of John 3 takes place before John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded. Even though he was faithful to the end, he had the seeds of doubt begin to grow inside him:
- Matthew 11:1-6 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
The message of John 3:22 and the following verses is that John was intentionally fading into the background while Jesus was having the spotlight put on Him and made brighter. Yet, a little while later as he’s rotting in prison, he begins to lose sight of the objective. He probably felt isolated, alone, and was not receiving positive reinforcement. Humans are results-oriented, and while sitting in prison he didn’t see ministerial growth or success, but rather, felt that all he worked for was for naught. And Jesus wasn’t turning out to be the Jesus he had imagined He should be.
Sound familiar? We all walk by sight rather than by faith. It’s a dilemma we all face. We all look for life success and ministerial success as signs of being in God’s will, of being blessed. We all look for Jesus to be what wethink He should be. In fact, look on the internet right now and you will find Christian leaders writing articles to answer the current questions of “Where is God during Coronavirus?” People are insisting God doesn’t exist because Coronavirus does, and if He did exist, why didn’t He do something about it instead of allowing it to spread? Christians are even doubting and fearfully wondering what’s going to happen, and where did God go? And to these you find these Christian writers trying to explain the oft-discussed problem of evil.
Interestingly enough, the first things on God’s agenda are not your happiness, mental stability, comfort, encouragement, motivation, or success. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland says Coronavirus “is an urgent call to us all to repent of our sin and seek the Lord while He may be found, and to call upon Him while He is near”. The saying goes, “God is more interested in what happens in you than what happens to you.” He wants us to have more faith, to be holy, to be submissive to His will, to be dedicated to His Word, to proclaim His Gospel, to love and worship Him only. He wants the lost world to turn to Him on His terms.
So, John is in prison wondering why Christ hasn’t set up His rule and reign, why He hasn’t manifested His Messianic glory, and why the heck was He in Galilee rather than in the religious center of Israel: Jerusalem? Jesus reinforces John’s faith by advising him that He was fulfilling Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-10.
We discussed in yesterday’s devotional the unity of the church. This is not only biblical, but essential to the church’s health, especially with regards to evangelism. Jesus sticks with us regardless of how wicked and selfish we can be. We must also stick with each other because we are to be one in the Spirit and our love for God is demonstrated by our love for each other. We must support our church family during Coronavirus. We must show true Christian love by sacrificing for one another. And we must not allow Satan the opportunity right now to create any divisions in our church. As a famous politician once stated:
- “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”—Rahm Emanuel
Satan will use a crisis, or anything else he can to his advantage if we let him. And when the focus is on ourselves, then the focus is off of Christ, off of His church, and off of our mission to the lost world. When the focus is off of Christ, we become doubtful as John the Baptist for a spell. We cannot allow this voice of Satan to control us or our emotions at any time, especially now.
- The Word is our primary source of meat. Without spiritual meat, we become spiritually anemic.
- Have you stayed up on your Bible reading this week? _________________________________________________
- What affirming and comforting truths do you see about our sovereign God in your recent Bible reading? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What areas has the Holy Spirit convicted you that you need to repent of? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Evangelism needs to occur during the good times and the bad. Right now I am guessing the internet or phone is your primary means of communication with others. Think of ways that you can bring God into your conversations and draw peoples’ attention to His love for us in the midst of our world which is experiencing the results of sin: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Do you know people in our church that need encouragement? In my assessment, probably all of our church needs encouragement. Reach out to them, but do not neglect to feed them the Word. The motivational, self-sufficient “We can do it” messages you hear in the world are not founded on God, and only God is the source of peace, comfort, and life. Who in our church can you reach out to with the encouraging Word today? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Humility is a tough life for prideful people. We are all prideful whether we show it or not. The question is, how much do we decrease so that He can increase? What are the challenges in your life to this necessity? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- I draw great comfort in times like these knowing that God is sovereign over every little event in life, every molecule in my body, every little atom at the edge of the universe that I will never see.
- Ligonier Ministries was founded by the late Dr. R.C. Sproul. They host many of the best preachers in the world to present solid, Bible-focused messages. I highly recommend them as a resource for your personal life and research:
- With regards to our current world situation, you may have questions, or challenges to your faith. What better way to reinforce your faith than with a heavy diet of the Bible coupled with a heavy diet of Bible-oriented teaching?
- Today’s suggestion which I know many of you have free time right now and can watch: Why Does God Allow So Much Suffering and Evil?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LFzk1afiD8