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Believing the Miracle-Making Messiah - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
August 18, 2023 6:00 am

Believing the Miracle-Making Messiah - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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August 18, 2023 6:00 am

What do you do with your faith? Today, Skip shares an encouraging message about what believers do with their faith in various stages of their journey.

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Devout believers wrestle with their faith.

You'll see it in John. Devout believers wrestle with their faith. And then the second stage, developing believers reason through their faith. And finally, determined believers remain in their faith. What do you do with your faith?

Today on Connect with Skip Heitig, Pastor Skip shares an encouraging message about what believers do with faith in various stages of their journey. But first, we want to tell you about a resource that will equip you to give evidence for your faith in Jesus. Is there archeological proof that Jesus existed? Did Jesus ever actually claim to be God? Is Jesus really the only way? There's a good chance you'll be asked tough questions like these at some point.

You may ask these questions yourself. That's why we want to send you Josh and Sean McDowell's new book, Evidence for Jesus, to help you answer crucial questions about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Was that truth challenged in the presence of knowledgeable witnesses, especially antagonistic witnesses? Peter on the truth phone, he says, men of Israel, listen to these words, you leaders, Jesus of Nazarene, a man attested to you, not just to us. See, he threw it right back in the antagonist's lap, said, attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs, which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know. I'll tell you this folks, if those antagonists had not seen those witnesses, miracles, and signs, Peter would have been lucky to have made it out there alive.

Instead of what happened historically, thousands were added to the church. Evidence for Jesus will help you confidently answer tough questions like, is there evidence that Jesus was real? Did Jesus actually claim to be God? What makes Jesus unique from other religious figures? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

And why does that matter? Evidence for Jesus by Josh and Sean McDowell will join classics like More Than a Carpenter and Evidence That Demands a Verdict that have shaped Christian apologetics. We'll send you a copy of Evidence for Jesus as thanks for your gift of $50 or more this month to reach more people with the teaching and resources of Connect with Skiff Heitzig. So be sure to request your copy of Evidence for Jesus today when you give online securely at connectwithskiff.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888.

Okay, we're in Matthew 11 today as we go to Skip for today's teaching. Back in World War II, David Greenglass was a traitor to the United States of America. He sold secrets to the Russians, atomic secrets, and having done that, he fled down to Mexico. Well, he was down there. His co-conspirators figured out a way that he could meet with the Russian ambassador of Mexico City. However, his identity was absolutely vital.

Identifying that man to those people was paramount. So Greenglass was given six signs in advance, six pre-arranged signs known to him and to those that he would meet. So number one, once he was in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the ambassador, signing his name as I period Jackson. Number two, after three days, he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City. Number three, he was to stand before the statue of Columbus. Number four, with his middle finger placed in the guidebook. In addition, number five, when he was approached, he was to say that it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma.

Number six, the secretary to the ambassador would then give him a passport so that he could leave the country. Those six identifying signs made it impossible not to identify the right person. We have been looking at a series of signs given from the Old Testament, predictions, prophecies, pre-arranged predictions as to the identity of Jesus Christ, the identity of the Messiah. Not six, but over 300.

We're not looking at all 300, of course, but some of the highlights. And one thing is obvious, God wanted to make sure it was impossible not to mistakenly identify the Messiah. He wanted us to make sure as he wanted the Jewish nation to make sure who he was.

So prediction after prediction was given. For example, Isaiah said that he would be born of a virgin. Micah said he will be born in Bethlehem and he was. Hosea the prophet said he will be called out of Egypt and he was. The prophet said he would arise out of Galilee and he did. Isaiah called him a servant and we looked at that.

And then Paul the Apostle, we noticed last week, said he came at just the right time, in the fullness of the time. When you put all those puzzle pieces together, you have an unmistakably accurate composite picture of who that Messiah was to be. Well, one of the descriptions of what he would do is that he would perform miracles. That it would be one of the authenticating, confirming signs that this one was the one because he would perform miracles.

So Isaiah 29 and Isaiah chapter 35 say the eyes of the blind shall see, the ears of the deaf will be unstopped, and then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing. Those are predictions made by the prophet Isaiah. But there were others who also believed that when the Messiah comes you'll be able to spot him because of his miracles. You've heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They're scrolls that were found in desert caves of Qumran down by the Dead Sea.

They were placed in those caves, we believe, before the time of Christ. And one particular document found in cave number four of the Dead Sea Scroll archaeological dig found a statement in a scroll that reads this, the heavens and the earth will obey the Messiah. He will heal the sick, resurrect the dead, and to the poor he will announce glad tidings. And so when Jesus came on the scene, almost immediately miracles happened. His first miracle was turning the water into wine in Cana. But then he healed people who were sick, he raised people who were dead, he controlled forces of nature like calming the storm, and it was so notorious, his miracles, that even his enemies, people who disagreed with him, were forced to say, you know, something's up. Did you know in the Jewish Talmud Jesus is called a sorcerer?

Why a sorcerer? Because they knew of all of the signs that accompanied him wherever he went. Well, there are 35 recorded miracles that Jesus performed in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

35. But those weren't the only ones. Because John writes at the end of his book and many other miraculous signs Jesus did in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that believing have life in his name. One of those who believed in him was a guy by the name of John the Baptist, J the B for short. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, believed in him, but in chapter 11 of Matthew, John is in prison, and he's not getting out. He's going to die in jail. And while he's there, he struggles, he doubts, his faith is rocky.

So much so that he needs to ask a question. Find out what's going on with Jesus. We're going to read it. But what I want to do is take the opportunity in the first six verses of Matthew chapter 11 to give you three stages of faith in respect to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

And they're simple. Devout believers wrestle with their faith. You'll see it in John. Devout believers wrestle with their faith. And then the second stage, developing believers reason through their faith.

And finally, determined believers remain in their faith. We'll see all of that in these verses. Verse one begins, it came to pass when Jesus finished commanding his 12 disciples that he departed from there to teach and to preach and to preach in their cities. And when John, this is John the Baptist, had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, are you the coming one or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said to them, go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me. As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, what did you go out into the wilderness to see?

A wreath shaken by the wind. But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in king's houses.

But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, behold I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way before you. John the Baptist is the forerunner of Jesus.

You've heard the term forerunner, he's the guy that came before him. And when Jesus came, pointed to him and said, that's the guy, that's the Messiah. So John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, was someone who himself was predicted in the Old Testament. This is Matthew's point in verse 10. He's quoting Malachi the prophet chapter 3 that says, behold I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way before you. Here is John predicted in the Old Testament along with Jesus as the one who would point to him.

And John knew this to be true because when he's baptizing in the Jordan River, and they all come out and the religious leaders said, hey who are you? Are you the Messiah? Are you the Christ? He goes, no I'm not. And so they say, well who are you? And he quotes Isaiah 40, I am the voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.

That's a quote right out of the Old Testament. So John is saying, I am not the message, I'm just the messenger. He is the word, I'm getting people's attention.

I'm just a lowly road worker pointing the way that you need to follow him. John the Baptist, J the B, was an uncommon man with a common misunderstanding. A common misunderstanding as to who the Messiah would be, and I'll explain that.

Jesus said something very, we didn't even get to it, but in verse 11 you can even look down. Jesus says of John the Baptist, he was the greatest man ever born of a woman. But he was an unusual guy. I mean if you know the Bible, you know this guy was a little bit different, right?

He hung out in the desert regions, he ate bugs, and he wore animal fur, so Peter would not like this guy at all. And he was very different in his approach to preaching. He just called it like he saw it. He saw it. He told people when he saw him, repent, repent, because the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And he would just call it like it was, and that's one of the reasons he gets into trouble. Now let me just give you a thumbnail sketch of who he was. His dad was Zacharias. His mom was Elizabeth. Both of them were old. Zacharias's dad was a priest in the temple, and his mom Elizabeth. They were past having children, and as older people they never had a child. She was infertile. Until one day while Zacharias is in the temple doing his deal, burning incense, the angel Gabriel shows up and says, John, you and your wife are going to have a baby.

You can have a little boy. Well Zacharias, even though he saw the angel Gabriel, didn't believe him and asked for a sign. So he goes, okay, I'll give you a sign. You won't be able to talk for nine months.

How's that? I'll say it was sort of a curse on him, but I think maybe even more so for his wife who couldn't have a conversation with him, meaningful conversation, for nine months. So during this time as Elizabeth starts growing and that baby starts showing itself, when she's about six months pregnant, her cousin Mary up in Nazareth miraculously gets pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

You definitely know that story. And she goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth down in Jerusalem. Well as soon as Mary walks through the door and says, hey, something happens. And Elizabeth says to Mary, as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ear, the baby leaped for joy inside my womb. So Jay the bee is already excited to meet Jesus, because in the womb Elizabeth says, he's jumping up and down. Then came the day he was born.

Now remember Zacharias cannot talk. So when they say, what's his name going to be? He has to take a writing tablet and write on it, his name will be called John. And then when he can finally speak, he says to his newborn boy, and you my son will be called the prophet of the most high, because you will prepare the way for the Lord.

It's exactly what he grew up to be. He grew up as the forerunner pointing the way, preparing the way for the Lord. And something else, John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins. We know this to be true because their moms were cousins. Mary and Elizabeth were first cousins, making Jesus and John second cousins, which means they knew each other. They probably had gone to family reunions, certainly when it was the feast time, the festival time, and they went up to Jerusalem, they hung out together.

And I've always thought that this added authenticity to the testimony of Jay the bee. Because how many of you would say my cousin is God? How many of you would say my cousin is the one who takes away the sins of the world? You'd say my cousin adds a lot of sins to this world.

But John was absolutely convinced that his cousin Jesus was the Messiah predicted by the prophets. But something happened to John. He gets arrested and he gets put in prison. Why is he arrested?

Because I said he calls calls it like it is. So when Herod Antipas, the ruler, dumped his wife and married his brother Philip's wife, her name was Herodias, and brought her home, he let it loose. He said basically you're a vile, wicked sinner against God. Well that didn't go over very well with Herod. So Herod has him put in prison where he stays until his death. And while he is in prison, there he starts to doubt. He hears about Jesus, he hears what he's doing and saying, but he thinks, well I'm rotting in jail, while the Messiah that I'm convinced is the Messiah and pointed the way to is out there doing his thing. So John's doubt is based upon an unfulfilled expectation.

Remember I said John was an uncommon man with a common misunderstanding. The common misunderstanding was simply this, when the Messiah comes he's going to first immediately set up his kingdom, because it says so in the Old Testament. Didn't say he'll do it first, but he says he will set up a kingdom. Now he knew the prophets. He knew what Daniel chapter 2 said and what Daniel chapter 7 said, that the Son of Man will establish an everlasting kingdom. So he's in jail going, where's the kingdom?

He starts to doubt. And he's probably thinking thoughts like, well didn't Jesus announce up in Nazareth I've come to set the captives free? Didn't Jesus say in that speech in the synagogue in Nazareth I've come to set at liberty those who are bound? So John's thinking, I'm bound, but there ain't no liberty.

And what's up with that? If he came to set free the captives, why am I still here? John doubts. I remember my first struggles with the Christian faith after I became a believer. I remember struggling and I struggled with it because I had been saved that summer and then I went to college. And I had wonderful professors who made it their aim to undermine my Christian faith. One of them told me those words exactly, I will undermine everything you believe. I thought, well I thought you were paid to teach me zoology. I didn't know that was your stated goal, but it was. And there were many others after him.

My anatomy professor, my physics professor, etc, etc. And I remember getting really down and doubting and wondering if this was even true. And I wrestled and I struggled, but my doubts became my stepping became my stepping stones eventually to an unshakable faith. Something else, and I'll talk a little more about that in a moment, but it is not unusual for even spiritual leaders like John the Baptist to have times of uncertainty. Moses second-guessed his calling. Jeremiah the prophet wanted to quit and never say another word for God. Elijah the prophet wanted to die. So as I go through the Bible, I find these great giants of the faith from time to time struggling.

In fact, maybe this will encourage you. If you were to chase down the word doubt in the New Testament, you'll discover that in every single occasion, except for one instance, it refers to believers, not unbelievers. Believers. For instance, Jesus said to his disciples, oh ye of little faith. On another occasion, he said, how long will you doubt? And then after the resurrection, it's a very interesting passage. It says, when they saw him, they worshiped, but some of them doubted. It's wild, right?

He's up from the dead and they're worshiping him and some of them go, I don't know. They struggled with it. So it's almost as if you have to believe before you can doubt. You have to invest, you have to buy in before you can even challenge what you believe in. So it's not uncommon.

And here's how it works. You find a believer who has faithfully served the Lord year after year after year and then suddenly something happens. The loss of a child. The loss of freedom because of a debilitating disease.

And that person at some point is going to stop and look up and go, why would you allow this to happen? Where were you? Where are you?

Where are you when I'm really hurting? John the Baptist, for 18 months, has been preaching the gospel, pointing to Jesus. Thousands of people are around him, listening to it, being changed by it. Now suddenly he is in a pit in the middle of the desert of a palace known as Machaerus, and he is in the lower part of the pit.

Total of about a year's time before he finally dies, is killed there. And so he doubts, he wonders. And I bet even right now I'm speaking to some people who have had or are having doubts.

You're at church, you've been drugged at church, you've been convinced by a loved one you should come to church so you pacify them perhaps. You're here, you're listening, but you wonder. All the Christians say about Jesus, could it really be true? I have my doubts. Let me encourage you to do with your doubts what John the Baptist did with his. You know what he did? He went to Jesus. Now he couldn't get out of prison, so he sends emissaries in proxy to ask him the question, are you the one? Are you really the guy?

Or should we be looking for somebody else? But I love the fact that with his doubt about Jesus, he goes and talks to Jesus. I just want to know, who are you?

Are you really that one? And let me just encourage you, if you are doubting, there's a lot of study you can do, there's a lot of books you can read, but first, why not take it to Jesus? And let me give you a challenge. It's what my friend does, even to atheists. He says, I love talking to atheists, and I don't get into all the philosophical arguments at first. I just say, let me give you a challenge. Are you willing to accept my 21-day challenge?

He says, for 21 days, it'll take you 10 minutes a day. I want you to read one chapter of the Gospel of John every day. Read one chapter, and as you go through, ask one simple question, who is Jesus Christ? Or at least, who does he claim he is?

Or in the very least, who does John, in writing the book, John the author, claim Jesus to be? Just start there and see what will happen with that first. That concludes today's message from Skip Heitzig's series, Against All Odds. Find the full message, as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Now, here's Skip to share how you can connect you and many others with the truth of God's word with a gift, to keep these messages going out around the world through Connect with Skip Heitzig. Studying scripture is vital if you're going to hold firmly to biblical truth.

That's why we share these Bible teachings, to strengthen you in God's word, so you can stand on his truth. And when you come alongside this ministry through your generous support, you do the same for many listeners around the world. This year, I'm praying God will open doors for these teachings to reach more people in major cities across the United States. When you give today, you will make that vision possible. So please consider a gift today.

Here's how you can do that. Skip Heitzig channel on YouTube to watch or rewatch your favorite teachings, or find new ones to dive into more solid biblical teaching to help deepen your walk. And be sure to subscribe to the channel so you never miss any new content that's Connect with Skip Heitzig on YouTube. Tune in again next week for more verse-by-verse teaching from God's word with Pastor Skip. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-26 22:57:47 / 2023-08-26 23:06:59 / 9

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