March 18 – The Gospel of Matthew – Chapter 11

Read Matthew 11:1-30

Doubt.

Chances are that sometime in your life you have wrestled with doubt. Doubt in your ability, doubt in others, even doubt in God’s love. You’re not alone. Many biblical heroes we place on holy pedestals have fought the battle of doubt. Read Hebrews 11, the chapter often referred to as “the hall of faith”, and notice how many of these “heroes” overcame one of our greatest obstacles . . . doubt.

Although John the Baptist is not mentioned in Hebrews 11, he has almost a whole chapter dedicated to his testimony of faith in the eleventh chapter of Matthew. Let’s set the scene. John, God’s prophet, chosen to prepare the way for Jesus’ message, was in prison. Captive to his unpleasant surroundings, he only heard of Jesus’ works. He was not part of the crowd that walked with Jesus, ate with Jesus and witnessed Jesus’ miracles. Perhaps this was not how John expected things to turn out. He knew Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but, as he sat in a cold, dark, lonely prison, doubt crept in. “Are You the Expected One or shall we look for someone else?” John questioned. In other words, John wanted evidence. He wanted assurance that Jesus is who He said He was. Jesus responded by sending back a report to John. Jesus said that all the downcast of society have been helped, healed and set free from their circumstances.

But not John. Jesus had the power to set John free from his circumstances. Instead, John sat in a Roman prison, missing everything he prophesied about, only hearing second-hand the amazing works Jesus had done.

There’s another chapter 11 wrestler of faith. We find a desperate and doubting woman named Martha in John 11. After the death of her brother, Lazarus, the tension of faith and doubt pulled at her. She believed Jesus was able to heal Lazarus but doubted why He came after her brother died. The crowd that had gathered around the tomb expressed their doubt too. “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?” (John 11:37)

Have you been there?

Wondering why God hasn’t shown up or changed your circumstances? Faith cries out that you know He can. Doubt shouts louder, wondering why He hasn’t. We learn from both John the Baptist and Martha that faith isn’t so much about believing God’s ability, as it is trusting His sovereignty. When God seems silent, rather than doubt, look up, for God always has a greater purpose. He had a greater purpose for John and for Martha and both were rescued from doubt. Read the entire chapter and hear John’s accolades from Jesus himself. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  Both John and Martha sought the Lord and I have no doubt they received their reward for faith – and I don’t doubt He will do that for you too.

What doubt are you experiencing in your life? What role does your faith play in overcoming that doubt?

Just believe.

Charline Engle

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