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Some Doubted: Just Checking
1. Close Reading : After praying for God to enlighten your mind, read through Matthew 11:1-19 a couple times, slowly. Look for these three things: LIGHTBULB – something that shines from the passage, draws your attention; QUESTION MARK – something difficult to understand; ARROW – a personal application. Share the results of your study with your group.
2. JB’s Question : Sometimes there lies unspoken questions behind our spoken ones. After John the Baptist’s thrilling early ministry (John 1:19-34), he finds himself in prison asking of Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matt. 11:3). What questions are behind this question? How does John the Baptist’s question resemble Job’s? What questions do you have for God, things you don’t understand why He hasn’t fixed yet?
3. Jesus’ Response : While it is very true that Jesus did not fulfill all of the OT expectations of the messiah in His first coming, Jesus invited John to examine those OT expectations He did fulfill (Matt. 11:4-5). Compare Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1-2 with what you know about the early ministry of Jesus. While Matthew 11:6 might be understood as a mild rebuke, on the whole was Jesus harsh with John in His response? Or was He ‘gentle’ (see Matt. 11:29, just 10 verses after this account)? Have you ever been afraid of or suppressed your questions about the faith? How does this story teach us to act otherwise?
4. Rejection of JB and Jesus : Like Job, when we are suffering and in doubt, it can be tremendously helpful to see ourselves in the larger story. John the Baptist needed this clarity in Matthew 11. In the context of the larger story, Jesus had just revealed Himself to Israel by word (Matt. 5-7), deed (Matt. 8-9), and the proclamation of his disciples (Matt. 10). Now, Matthew 11-12 record Israel’s response to Jesus – sadly, rejection. How does Matthew 11:16-19 begin to describe John’s participation in this rejection? Where have you benefited from seeing yourself in a larger story? Where might you need your perspective lifted now?