The Important Question which John from his Prison Directed to Jesus

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Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?  Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their 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, whosoever shall not be offended in me. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. [Matthew 11:2-10]

The remarks introductory to the exegesis are vital for the contents of the sermon. I have not read a single sermon that consists of application made from John's character or his actions that I would approve. If I were to sit in the pew, as I have now done for many years, and were to hear the preacher preach that we must not doubt like John doubted, and must not grow weak in faith as John grew weak, or if he blamed John's dis-ciples for such doubt and weakness, I would be tempted to throw my hymn-book at the preacher and to leave the church. The sermon books and the collections of sermon outlines that I have seen contain too many of these misguided attempts.

In your introduction to the sermon you may tell the true story as to how John came to direct his question to Jesus. Do it in a clean-cut; interesting, yet brief manner. It leads straight to the theme:

The Important Question which John from his Prison Directed to Jesus.

Simple analysis supplies the parts:

  1. The answer which this question elicited from Jesus in regard to Jesus' Work
  • The declaration which this question educed from Jesus in regard to John's Work.

  • Part two, like part one, glorifies Jesus, for he is the Messiah so great that a prophesied prophet ushered in his Coming in Grace. This type of sermon, so simple and to the point, will strike the hearers: Here is all this work of Jesus' grace before our hearts to-day, and here is the prophesied prophet who prepared the way for Jesus, what is our response? Only a passing interest, ending in indifference?