Are You Sure?
I love the fact that there are many paradoxes in Christianity. Firstly because they show me the limits of my own already limited human wisdom, but also because they often capture the beauty of our God – at once complex yet simple; holy yet loving; powerful yet humble (one of my most cherished paradoxes which I will never understand is why the all-mighty Lion of Judah chose to became the sacrificial Lamb of Atonement for all of us). Yesterday, during church service, Pastor KK brought to our attention yet another paradox from the book of Luke – that of doubt and faith. In the spirit of Covenant’s love for alliteration, let me attempt my own here! =)
Sincere doubt is better than stubborn disbelief
In the middle of his message, Pastor KK centered on the passage from Luke 7:18-33 which speaks of how in jail, John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the Messiah that the people had been waiting for. Now, of all people, it seems reasonable to expect that John would be the last person to doubt Jesus’ identity as the chosen Messiah sent from God. After all, it was John who first proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29); it was John who witnessed a dove descending on Jesus during His baptism (Luke 3:21-22); it was John who leapt for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth (Luke 1:44). Surely he must have known who Jesus was!
Yet, John doubted.
But how did Jesus respond? Instead of rebuking John for his doubts, Jesus used this as a teachable moment to contrast the difference between John’s doubts and the Pharisees’ disbelief! As Pastor KK reminded us yesterday, our doubts are inevitable but it is Jesus who reassures. By sending John’s disciples back to John to tell him what Jesus had been doing, Jesus was reminding John of his first mission on earth – to heal, to free, to save. What Jesus did not do in His first coming (which was what John and probably many other Jews ‘expected’), He will do in His second – to judge, to redeem, to restore. But to the Pharisees with their hardened disbelief, Jesus uses the simple illustration of children singing and playing different songs to show that neither the humble beauty of salvation nor the mighty power of redemption was understood by those who chose not to believe. And that, not John’s doubts, is the real tragedy of the passage.