Shepherd's Cross Christian Helps Ministry
(1 Corinthians 12:28)

Following in the footsteps of the Acts of the Apostles, written by St. Luke, Shepherd's Cross Christian Helps Ministry exists by the grace of God to further the first century Apostolic tradition serving in the Great Commission.

(St. Matthew 28:16-20)

Virtue and Vice: Doubt / Skepticism / Unbelief

The Doubting Father

Gordon, Jeff, and I became friends in sixth grade. They were considered very cool; everyone who was anyone in our school liked them. Could their popularity be explained by the fact that Gordon and Jeff, played guitar and starred in their own rock and roll band.

In September 1967, having graduated from sixth grade, I was off and heading for Junior High. Having listened to singing groups since I was in the fourth grade like the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones and other Sixties rock bands provided courtesy of the British Invasion to our shoreline the words of Danny & The Juniors lived deep in my heart.

Danny & The Juniors

Rock 'n roll is here to stay,
it will never die
It was meant to be that way,
though I don't know why
I don't care what people say,
rock 'n roll is here to stay
(We don't care what people say,
rock 'n roll is here to stay)

Many in the 1960’s became interested in learning to play the electric guitar. I was no exception. As a much younger child my parents provided me with piano lessons. Soon after my parents divorced lessons ceased. According to my mom, she no longer could afford the cost of the private lessons.

Other than the “Big Bopper,” born Jiles Perry Richardson Jr., October 24, 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas, the Bobs Big Boy original double deck hamburger or the “Big Kahuna,” there were other things that were big. The price for a new electric guitar; amp and guitar lessons cost “Big Bucks.” After approaching my mom about learning to play the electric guitar, she decided it was okay to bring the subject up to my dad.

When I approached, dad about buying me a guitar, amp and lessons he offered to do so once I showed him I was worthy of his venture capital. In seventh grade I enrolled in a guitar class being offered at my Junior High School. As with my piano lessons, I was committed to practice on the school’s acoustic guitar faithfully.

As the school year passed quickly by, I began working odd jobs in the neighborhood in order to save money. I soon had enough earned money to purchase a used Fender electric guitar and Gibson amp. When my dad visited again, I demonstrated my new developed talent on my used electric guitar and amp. Being impressed with my performance, he now offered to pay for a new electric guitar, amplifier and lessons. I respectfully declined his offer.

The Skeptic Mother

I have this distinct memory from early childhood about my mom and me standing in the medical office of our family physician, Dr. Smith. My mom asked Dr. Smith to put emphasis on what she had already stressed earlier to me regarding telling the truth. Mom’s maternal instructional training included that one should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and take responsibility for your individual actions.

In response to my mom’s request, Dr. Smith stated to me, “When a group of boys are playing baseball and the ball is hit and breaks a neighbor’s window and everyone runs, then everyone becomes a possible suspect.” “Under these circumstances what would be the best decision to make?” “The best decision to make is to stay put at the scene and admit either you were the one that hit the ball that broke the window or that you were not.”

A couple months after Dr. Smith’s talk, which I took to heart, Dr. Smith’s hypothetical example happened to me. I was playing baseball with other neighborhood boys, in front of my parent’s house. It was my turn up at bat. I hit the underhand pitched ball up and into the air. The foul ball took off like a rocket in the direction of my next door neighbor’s residence. POW, CRASH, SMASH, the baseball landed inside our neighbor’s living room passing through the house’s front window.

Having been mentally formed to take responsibility for my actions, by telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, after feeling a bit queasy, I advanced to my neighbor’s residence front door. Answering my knock, Mr. Moon opened the door. Explaining the circumstances that led to why a baseball unintentionally was now sitting in Mr. Moon’s living room rather than in my baseball mitt, I was handed the ball by Mr. Moon. My parents and he made financial arrangements in order to get the living room window pane repaired. Shortly, following this event, my parents divorced. With dad having moved hundreds of miles away, our family continued moving forward with his absence. It was now just mom and me.
Soon after my parent’s divorce; mom first started refusing to accept my word about matters that involved my telling the truth. Mother’s skepticisms continued forming a sizable rift between the intimate parent child relationships we once shared. She died in 1992. The rift never mended. I can still recall thinking to myself, upon hearing of her demise, “Thank God I will never be abused by her again.”

What a sad commentary, coming from a son, adopted from birth, for a mother who spent a significant amount of time in her son’s early developmental years introducing him to the virtues, arts and the philosophy of St. Augustine of Hippo and St Thomas Aquinas.

The Unbelieving Son

Surviving the pubescent years, having developed appropriate, good and healthy male friendships, I began looking for a young woman to keep company with. Observing a young lady I found attractive, I ventured out into the deep uncharted waters ahead and ask her for a date. She accepted.

I could not wait for the date to talk with her. I wanted to know everything about the girl. I wanted to share with her about myself too. I called her on the phone. When I telephoned my date to be, I conducted myself like a police detective investigating an alleged criminal complaint.

These conversations would lead to marathon phone calls sometimes lasting anywhere from two to four hours. Sometimes, these phone calls would carry on into the early a.m. As the length of the call continued, I would probe for undiscovered discrepancies in an alibi story while investigating a villainous suspect. I can recall my mother saying, “You know, you just talk too much on the phone.” My mom was correct. These long phone calls sabotaged any potential connection that may have developed. As I pursued the object of my suspicion in conversation, we found ourselves drifting further and further apart loosing interest in one another. When the calendar day arrived, for our date to begin, she changed her mind or so her father said to me on the phone. I told myself, see, I was right all along. See, she was lying all the time. See, she really did not care. See, she just wanted to use me for a free night outing. My behavior resulted in acquiring a self fulfilling prophecy.

Shared Experiences

The Doubting Father, The Skeptic Mother and The Unbelieving Son, what did these three shared stories have in common. Yes, of course, these stories are shared experiences coming from a treasure chest of the author’s life experiences. Let’s move away from the obvious, shall we and dig, going deeper. The first story shares the mistrust of one person towards another person in relationship to doubt; the second story shares the mistrust of one person towards another person in relationship to skepticism while the last story shares the mistrust of one person towards another person in relationship to unbelief.

Doubt: My dad had doubt. He wanted to be sure his investment had a payoff. Never having given my dad a reason to not have confidence in me, he chose rather to have a feeling of uncertainty about the fact that I would follow through with practicing the guitar.

Like a caterpillar turning into a colorful butterfly, dad’s hesitation and uncertainty once he heard me play, metamorphosed from doubt into pride. His pride played zilch in my guitar playing accomplishment. I worked hard earning money to purchase the music equipment. Attending a public school, through the public tax payers generosity, lessons were provided free of cost. Private lessons were later paid for through my mom’s generosity.

Skepticism: From early childhood my mother promoted a virtuous way of life for me. I was cultured to follow a lifestyle of character values which included in speaking the truth and telling no lies. When circumstances warranted it, I demonstrated, to the best of my ability, what I was trained in. Secondly, I do not recall a memorable signal event that I intentionally, maliciously and willfully lied to either of my parents in order to avoid punishment. Lastly, I do not recall a memorable signal occasion that I silently stood by, allowing another to take blame for an action when I was in fact the guilty party.

After my parents divorce my mom began to question the very values she initially instilled in her son growing up. She simply became skeptical with the answers refusing to accept my word about matters that involved my telling the truth when they had related to problematic situations. There was this wooden blue sign with white letters hanging on a wall in my late friend’s Italian restaurant manager’s office which read, “Hire a teenager when he still knows everything.” In this case, it was my mom that thought she knew everything, especially when it pertained to her only son’s character. As I grew older, she began to see me not through the eyes of the mom that began raising her adopted son with life’s first principles, rather as a son not to be believed, not to be trusted. She abandoned faith, first in herself and then in me.

Unbelief: In my case, I wanted to believe the girl, I just chose not to. I did not have a parent or mentor early in my pubescent years as a roll model to show me the ropes. To the relaxed onlooker the motivation behind these marathon phone calls may be invigorated from energy resulting from puppy love to infatuation. Actually, I was being moved from a different direction, mistrust and unbelief. It was not that I liked guys. LOL. I really was attracted to women and this one in particular. So what was the issue? The problem was that I simply did not believe the young woman’s sincerity. I did not trust the woman’s words and actions. Yes, the women accepted my invitation to go on a date. The problem rested within me.

Skepticism And Unbelief A Contrast

Dr. Alister McGrath, an Oxford University author, professor and scholar, recently wrote a book in 2006 called, Doubting. In his text, he shares a definition for skepticism that I feel is pertinent to describe my mother’s mistrust towards me. “Skepticism is the decision to doubt everything deliberately, as a matter of principle.” “Skepticism is not unbelief,” Dr. McGrath adds, “Unbelief is an act of will, rather than a difficulty in understanding,” (Doubting 2006). As for my unbelief towards women, I have been helped in my unbelieving outlook.

For some unbeknownst reason, following my parents divorce my mom stopped believing in me and stopped believing my word. I was never able to control my mother’s will. Since my mother is dead, I may never fully know the answer to, why. Alas, I will likewise never experience again the parental child intimacy we once shared.

Doubt Skepticism And Unbelief The Human Dimension To The Spiritual Dimension

I would like to change gears here and move from the human plain to that of the spiritual. Under the heading of, “Doubt versus Unbelief versus Skepticism” on, a person wrote this question, “I'm doing a Bible study on these three ideas, and I'm just wondering how to best differentiate the three. I know that Thomas is an example of a doubter and the Pharisees are examples of unbelief. Would you say that Nicodemus is an example of a skeptic, i.e. one who has an outlook of enquiry and curiosity?”

I referred her to Dr. Alister McGrath’s book earlier mentioned, Doubting 2006.

The person seeking information offered this supposition that Thomas was an example of being a doubter, “I know that Thomas is an example of a doubter.” I make stipulation that the coined term, “Doubting Thomas” has been historically passed down to mankind resulting from the behavior of the Apostle Thomas in the first century. Yet, does the biblical text suggest Thomas in fact doubted?

Jesus’ Appearance to the Disciples

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” St John 20:19-23

The Response of Thomas

Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, Thomas, in the company of the other disciples, heard the Lord’s prophetic words recorded in the Gospel according to St Mark 8:3 … “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

Thomas becomes the first recorded person in Holy Writ; the disciples shared the Gospel with, after receiving the Holy Spirit through the breath of the risen Lord. “Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” St. John 20:25

Thomas replies, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!” 43 St. John 20:25

Believe what?

There is conjecture made from the New English Translation (NET) Bible website location of what Thomas was referring to. “43tn the word “it” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. The use of “it” here as direct object of the verb (pisteusw) specifies exactly what Thomas was refusing to believe: that Jesus had risen from the dead, as reported by his fellow disciples. Otherwise the English reader may be left with the impression Thomas was refusing to “believe in” Jesus, or “believe Jesus to be the Christ.” The dramatic tension in this narrative is heightened when Thomas, on seeing for himself the risen Christ, believes more than just the resurrection (see St. John 20:28).”

Is there any difference between Thomas refusing to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, as reported by his fellow disciples, from Thomas refusing to “believe in” Jesus, or “believe Jesus to be the Christ?”

The passage found in the Gospel according to St. John 20:25 furnishes evidence where Thomas’s heart was positioned, in orientation to his faith on the prophetic pronouncement of the Lord Jesus and on the disciples’ anointed eyewitness testimony.

What does the Apostle Paul state regarding the resurrection of the Lord Jesus? “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1Corinthians 15: 12-19

1 Corinthians 15:12 states; "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Verse 17 states; “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

Is this not the Apostle Thomas's heart's confession? “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 Apostle Thomas states,” Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." St. John 20:29

Jesus’ Response to Thomas

“Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed. Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” St. John 20:24-31

What then is the response of the risen Lord to the Apostle Thomas's confession of unbelief; “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” St. John 20:27

Thomas Response to Jesus

… “My Lord and My God.” St. John: 20:28

Psalter/Hymnal of the Christian Reformed Church
Thomas Troeger, 1984,

These things did Thomas hold for real:
the warmth of blood, the chill of steel,
the grain of wood, the heft of stone,
the last frail twitch of blood and bone.
His brittle certainties denied
that one could live when one had died,
until his fingers read like Braille
the markings of the spear and nail.
May we, O God, by grace believe
and, in believing, still receive
the Christ who held His raw palms out
and beckoned Thomas from his doubt.

… “Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” St. John 20:27

Moving On To John the Baptist

Before Thomas the Twin there was John the Baptist: the Holy Bible is the Word of God, rather than diluting the Biblical text with a cursory summary review in order to save a bit of time, I would like to add full Old and New Testament Scripture texts when it serves to cover the subject of the Baptist, John as I did with the Apostle Thomas.

Birth Announcement of John the Baptist

“Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, because he has come to help and has redeemed his people. For he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from long ago, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us. He has done this to show mercy to our ancestors, and to remember his holy covenant – the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham. This oath grants that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, may serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him for as long as we live. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High. For you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of our God’s tender mercy the dawn will break upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child kept growing and becoming strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he was revealed to Israel.” St Luke 1:67-80

“A man came, sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that everyone might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.” St John 1:6-13

“Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed – he did not deny but confessed – “I am not the Christ!” So they asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not!” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No!” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Tell us so that we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

“John said, “I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) So they asked John, “Why then are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

“John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not recognize, who is coming after me. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal!” These things happened in Bethany across the Jordan River where John was baptizing.”

“On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘after me comes a man who is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’ I did not recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he could be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining – this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have both seen and testified that this man is the Chosen One of God.” St John 1: 19-34

As time went on John the Baptist found himself placed in Herod’s prison cell. King Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison because John had repeatedly told the King, “It is not lawful for you to have Herodias, your brother, Philip’s wife.” St. Matthew 14:3-4. Standing for the Law of Moses, John identified the sin of Herod and Herodias that was being broken. (Leviticus 18:16; 20:21). Keeping this in mind, exhorting a King of Israel, John the Baptist was carrying out his prophetic office. Remember King David was rebuked by the prophet Nathan for the role King David played in the lives of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in King David’s army and Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. 2 Samuel 12:1-24

“Now when John heard in prison about the deeds Christ had done, he sent his disciples to ask a question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” St Matthew 11: 2-3; St. Luke 7:18-19

John the Baptist’s doubt was in good company. Recall the prophet Elijah, hiding from Queen Jezebel. Elijah experienced profound despair. Despair, to the extent that “he even requested for himself that he might die.” 1Kings 19:4. This occurred in Elijah’s life after he passionately invoked the true LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel to respond to his prayerful cry. God responded by having the fire of the LORD fell from heaven upon Mount Carmel consuming the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench prepared by Elijah. 1Kings 18:38 “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. 1Kings 18:39-40

Attempting to escape from the clutches of Queen Jezebel, Elijah himself “went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baking on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” 1Kings 19:4-8

All that Scripture states is that Elijah despaired of life. Elijah still had true faith in the true LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel. After forty days and forty nights God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice heartening him that he was not alone. “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. 1Kings 19:18 With his faith strengthened, Elijah continued preserving in his prophetic office doing what God wished of him. 1Kings 19

Many have an opinion attempting to answer the question why, why would John the Baptist call two of his own disciples and send them to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” St. Matthew 11: 2-3; St. Luke 7:18-19

Commentaries are filled with human speculation. In order to avoid, either adding another proposal to the mix or renovating other opinions already written, I choose to abide with Solo Scriptorium (Scripture Alone) for an answer. It appears to me, that Holy Scripture texts are silent as to explaining the motivation behind John the Baptist’s request.

“The Doubting Why” Question

For those that are spiritually invested in a Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, they may feel it is essential, (sine quo non), to answer the “doubting why question” as it pertains to John the Baptist as an obligation to defend the Judeo Christian faith. For those that wrestle with doubt themselves, they may feel it is essential, (sine quo non), to answer the “doubting why question” as it pertains to John the Baptist as an obligation to justify themselves as being members of the universal Christian faith. I leave these people to the Lord’s grace.

It is my educated and prayerful viewpoint we may never know the answer to the “doubting why question.” This is because John is not here to tell us why and truthfully he may not consciously have known. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12

If there is no Biblical explanation to answer John the Baptist’s “doubting why” question then why have a Bible study about John the Baptist’s “doubting why” question? First, the importance of having a Bible study on the subject of John the Baptist’s doubt may be to examine, how the Lord Jesus Christ answers the John the Baptist question that was sent to Him by John’s through his two disciples. “When the men came to Jesus … at that very time Jesus cured many people of diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and granted sight to many who were blind. (The Messiah was to have a healing ministry, Isaiah 53:4; heal the blind, the deaf, the mute and the lame Isaiah 29:18-19; Isaiah 35:5-6; Isaiah 42:7; raise the dead; Daniel 12:2 and walk on water Job 9:8 etc.), Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you hear and see: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” St. Luke 7:20-23

Being in the wilderness, forty days, Jesus responded directly to Satan’s verbal attacks with Holy Scripture. (St. Mark 1:13). In like manner, referring back to the Hebrew Scripture Messianic Prophecies, Jesus answers John the Baptist’s question empowering once again John the Baptist’s faith. “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

Secondly, the importance of having a Bible study on the subject of John the Baptist’s doubt, may be to observe how the Lord Jesus Christ’s testifies to the crowd in His day about the character, person, and ministry of John the Baptist. Note that Jesus does not rebuke the Baptist for his doubt, rather, while John’s two disciples were going away; Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes are in the homes of kings! What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ “I tell you the truth, among those born of women; no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John appeared. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, who is to come. The one who has ears had better listen! St. Matthew 11: 2-15

A parallel passage of this same event is chronicled by St Luke: “When John’s messengers had gone; Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes and live in luxury are in kings’ courts! What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you; among those born of women no one is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he is.”
St. Luke 7:24-28

The people’s response to Jesus testimony about John the Baptist: “Now all the people who heard this, even the tax collectors, acknowledged God’s justice, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. However, the Pharisees and the experts in religious law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.”

Jesus response to the people: “To what then should I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
St Luke 7:24-33

Our True Example

One Solitary Life
Attributed to James Allen Francis.

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

Being Spiritually Practical

One rule that may be drawn from examples found in Holy Scripture that may leave us with a comforting thought Jesus recognizes that his followers will have times of doubt. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” St. Matthew 11:28-30

“My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts, is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.” St. James 1:2-8

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 St. Peter 5:10

“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
St. James 5:10-11

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
2 St. Peter 1:2-11

In Jesus name,

Brother Richard, MS Ed
Brother Richard, MS Ed

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