The Hidden Life Of Jesus
By Johnny Tatum
#4) DOUBTS – DELAYS – THE FATHER’S CONFIRMATION
As time goes on, Jesus must have been wondering if something is going wrong:
Those thoughts are reflected in the following verse:
[ISAIAH 49, continued]
4 But I said, “I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
[I believe-] Jesus thought this about the age of twenty, because in that culture I have spent My strength was taken to mean by the time you are twenty years old, you are past the marrying age and your strength is over. Does it seem strange for Jesus to think I have done this in vain; I have spent all My strength for nothing? It would seem strange in His divine nature, but certainly not in His human nature.
Application: This is very important to us, because one of the things we learn in the first part of Jesus’ life—before He knew that the Cross was waiting for Him—is that He suffered many doubts, which is completely understandable. What does that tell us about doubting? Obviously, it is not a sin to doubt. How do we know that? Jesus had doubts, and we know that He never sinned; therefore, we know that doubting is not a sin.
Presented In The Book Of James:
Part of the reason why people think that it is a sin to doubt might stem from their [wrong] understanding of the following passage:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-7)
It seems as though James is saying that if somebody doubts, then God will not give him wisdom. If God does not give wisdom to individuals who doubt, then it would not be true that He gives to everybody generously and without reproach; it would be a contradiction. This verse is saying:
God is generously giving wisdom, but a doubting person cannot receive it.
It reminds me of a time in 1960 when I was in the backseat of our family car listening to the seventh game in the [baseball] World Series between the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I was straining to hear the game because we were driving through southern Louisiana and the radio dial was set at an East Texas radio station [crackle-crackle “Mickey Mantle” crackle-crackle]. The signal went out totally with two outs in the ninth inning. And what I missed was Bill Mazeroski hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the historic game for the Pirates (their first world championship in 35 years)! When I stopped hearing the radio broadcast of the World Series, the game did not stop. [I thought that it would have been nice for them to delay the game until we could tune it in again] The signal was still being transmitted; I just was not getting it.
Application: That is what James is saying about a person who doubts:
God gives wisdom out to everybody—He throws it out there for everybody—but the doubting person does not receive it.
In those times that He doubted, Jesus had to do something about it, because in those moments He was not receiving the Father’s wisdom. What did Jesus do? There is an unmistakable pattern in His life:
It happened over and over again.
This is like the story I heard about a woman who had been an unbeliever all of her life. She was a good woman who raised a family, and the love of her life was her daughter. When her daughter became a teenager she developed leukemia, and the prognosis was bad: she had a very short time left to live. So the woman left the hospital, drove home, and parked the car in her driveway. As she sat in the car, rage built up in her until she started beating on the steering wheel and cursing God. For five minutes she let out a stream of cursing and hatred against God. Then this unbeliever heard an unmistakable voice say I have been waiting for 15 years for you to talk to Me. Keep talking, and I am going to heal your daughter.
Application: That is it! God the Father wants people to verbalize [to Him] where they are.
And that is a lesson even God the Father’s own Son learned. That was an unmistakable pattern even for Jesus—He had a doubt, and every single time He expressed His doubt, the Father broke through with a special revelation to Him.
Note: If you would like to study this pattern of doubt, you will find more passages in Isaiah 49 through 53 and in some of the Psalms, which show what Jesus was thinking at certain times and an unmistakable pattern of doubt:
Doubt—An Expression Of Doubt—A Specific Revelation
Here, obviously, Jesus doubts This is all in vain. Then He expresses it to God I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity. However, look how Jesus suddenly changes His mind in the remainder of the verse:
“Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD, And My reward with My God.”
That is what Jesus was thinking.
Do you see the pattern? Jesus has a doubt, He expresses it, and then He gets a revelation of God. Here, Holy Spirit tells Jesus No, it is not in vain. You are the One; I have called You. How do we know that? Because the next verse tells us what the Father [through Holy Spirit] says to Jesus:
5 And now says the LORD who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
Jesus needs reassuring, so the Father reassures Him:
To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and My God is My strength),
That was to be Jesus’ first priority: To Bring The Kingdom To Israel.
Question: Do you see what obviously happened? Jesus said I have done all this in vain; I have toiled in vain. As soon as Jesus expresses His doubt, He gets the revelation—God the Father says No! I formed You from the womb to be My Servant. You are going to bring Israel back to Me. I am Your strength. The Father wanted Jesus to verbalize His doubts so that Jesus could receive God’s revelation.
That was also the pattern King David had when he was angry and when he had doubts: he would doubt God, he would express it, and then he would have a 180-degree turn around [as we see in the many of the Psalms]—all of a sudden David would praise the Lord!
What worries me is how little we do that. If Jesus—the sinless, incarnate Son of God—had to express His doubts before He got revelation, then how much more us? If He could not have survived as a human being without expressing His doubts, then why do we think we can? I think we believe we are being holy by not telling God I do not believe this. That is simply not true!
Many times David said to the Lord God You have abandoned me. You have broken My covenant and You have profaned it. You have kicked me in the dust. You have thrown away my crown. Was what David was saying true? No! [I think we tend to think everything that is written in the Psalms is always correct thinking. Read carefully.] God told David I am going to raise up a Descendant from you; from your loins Messiah will come; your Son will rule. I have an eternal covenant with you. Over and over David says You have broken My covenant, but before the Psalm is over, David says No, You have not!
This is a lesson we are learning from the Son of God Himself.
LEARNING THE PURPOSE OF DELAYS
In the first part of His life, Jesus experiences a pattern of delays:
Jesus is learning why delays happen.
6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant, To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
God says That would be a small thing. It does not sound small to me, but God says That is nothing!
I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Do you see what the Father is telling His Son? He says I can make You the Messiah right now; I can restore Israel to You; I can make You the King of Israel. That is no problem. So Jesus says I am twenty years old, so let Us go for it. However, God says Let Us wait, because I have a bigger plan in mind—I am going to use You to be the Savior of the whole world.
I think that is when Jesus learns about the purpose of delays: God has something better in mind.
Question: Does God Make Us Wait To Test Our Faith?
I think sometimes we misunderstand what God’s delays are for. Frankly, I do not really like it when people say God makes you wait to test your faith. That sounds a bit cruel to me. Does it to you? Be honest. God makes you wait to test your faith. God does not need to test my faith; God knows my faith is minimal; God does not need my faith proved to Him.
Illustration: That is like when people say You better be careful what you ask for; God might give it to you. [Our request:] Lord, please give me a pig; I mean, give me peace. [God responds:] No, you said pig; no take backs. [Oink-oink!] God would not do that because that would be cruel of Him!
I do not think that God makes us wait just to test our faith. I think the pattern is:
God lets us wait because He has something much better in mind.
That is what the Father is telling His Son. He is not making Jesus wait all those years to test His faith, because Jesus was sinless. The Father had Jesus wait because He had something much bigger and better in mind.
Application: Maybe if we are in the position where something looks delayed and we are praying Lord, do this; please change this; maybe we ought to say Lord, You work this out. You must have something better in mind than what I have. And I understand that it might take time for something better to come out. Thank You for working it all out.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Presented In The Gospels:
That is a lesson Jesus learned that was valuable in His ministry. Consider the story of Lazarus when Jesus delayed.
During His three years of ministry [primarily] in Galilee, Jesus made at least three trips down to Jerusalem; this occurs in what was to be His last trip down. Mary, Martha and Lazarus—siblings—are very close friends of Jesus, and their home is in Bethany, the closest place Jesus would have called home.
Martha and Mary send a message to Jesus that His friend Lazarus is sick—he is about to die. However, Jesus waits two days after receiving word about Lazarus before He sets out with His disciples for Bethany, a two-day trip from where they are in Perea. In the meantime, Mary and Martha anticipate Jesus’ arrival, knowing that He can heal Lazarus. Now, however, in their minds it is too late because Lazarus dies. When Jesus arrives, He meets Martha first [and Mary later] away from the tomb where Lazarus is buried. Martha says:
“Lord if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)
Jesus grieves. And He asks where Lazarus is laid. When Jesus gets to the tomb, He raises Lazarus from the dead:
Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:39-44)
I do not believe that Jesus was delaying to test the faith of Mary and Martha, because they were close friends and He would not have done that to them. The reason He delayed was to do something better.
Do You See The Pattern?
The delay is not to test our faith; the delay is to produce something better!
If Jesus had gone right away, He would have healed a sick man. However, Jesus’ delay meant the people standing around saw the glory of God—He resurrected a dead man to life!
As you conduct an exercise like this, you just sense that you are getting to know Jesus better. That is the value and the benefit of doing this: charting His thoughts, watching Him grow up, and having a better understanding of what the writer of Hebrews meant when he said:
He was in all respects tested as we are.
Jesus was tested with delays; He was tested with confusion; He was tested with not understanding what was happening.
Then the writer says:
We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with us. (Hebrews 4:15)
Jesus knows what it is like to be disappointed, to not understand, to have delays — He knows!
Father, we thank You for Your written word, and for these hidden jewels in Your word. We thank You that You have lifted aside the veil and let us glimpse into that sacred area of communication between You and Your Son, Jesus, when He was a Child, a young Man, and a grown Man.
We ask You to continue to bless us, to reward us, as we learn more about Jesus, and as we learn about Him, that the mind of Christ becomes ours just by us learning about Him.
Father, above all, we thank You for sending Your Son to earth, and that He willingly took our sins at Gethsemane and He died for our sins on the Cross, giving us freedom, forgiveness, redemption, wholeness, purity, and righteousness in You. We thank You for Jesus. And it is in His name that we pray these things. Amen.
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