THE PRISON OF HIS PERSUASIONS

Intro: I'd like to bring John the Baptist's solitary confinement to our attention as we continue to consider the Bible's depictions of prison life. Let's find out why he was here and what he was facing as an introduction.
John's preaching caused him to be imprisoned here. It would appear that Herod, who ruled over a fourth of the Roman province of Palestine, took his brother's wife, Herodias, and married her. Luke 3:19-20 says that John was detained and imprisoned by the king after he preached publicly against this vile and illegal relationship. Matt. 14:3-4. In fact, John, Matt, would have been executed by Herod. 14:5, but he was afraid of public outcry because everyone agreed that John the Baptist was a prophet sent by the Lord. John started to question who Jesus was and what He was doing while he was in this prison. John's doubts undermined his faith and made him question Jesus's person and work. I would like to join John in this prison because I think many of God's children also go through it. We all go through times when we have doubts and fears. There are times when we question both our faith and our salvation. We ask some pretty profound questions to ourselves during those times of uncertainty and fear. Are I truly saved? Do I really feel safe? What if I did something wrong? What happens if Jesus isn't really the way to Heaven? What if the Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or whoever is correct and I am not? What if the Bible is not truly God's Word? What if God is unable to truly meet my requirements? Although most of us wouldn't say it out loud, we have been confronted with questions like these. We haven't questioned our faith, have we? We probably found ourselves imprisoned in the same prison as John when we allowed the questions to rise in our hearts. Consider what he did and what he went through in The Prison of His Persuasions today by joining him there. John was in that location, and Jesus provided John with the information he required to convince him of the truth. It's possible that's where you are now. If this is the case, or if you ever find yourself in this prison, the truths taught in these verses should help you escape. As I attempt to preach about The Prison Of His Persuasions, let's pay attention to these facts today. I. v. 2-3 THE DECEPTIONS OF THIS PRISON A. John's Doubts About This Prison: "Are thou He that should come, or do we look for another?" John had begun to doubt Jesus as a person in his prison. This is the same John who preached about Jesus with such bravado. Take note of these verses: Matt. 3:11-15; John 1:27-36; John 3:25-36. John's mind was clear at one point, but when he was thrown into the prison, he started to doubt. B. What John Learned in This Prison: He learned that being away from one's loved ones does not make one's heart grow fonder. According to verse 2, "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ..." John is imprisoned and is unable to observe the Lord Jesus as He performs healing and ministry. As He teaches and preaches, the Lord's voice is no longer audible to him. John's heart is clouded with doubts and questions because he is removed from the sights and sounds of Jesus' ministry. C. What John Did in This Prison: When he started to have doubts, John did the right thing and asked Jesus for help. John focused his efforts on seeking the Lord's response rather than wondering and worrying in that prison. When you're in doubt, look no further than that for assistance! (Note: Why was John confined to this prison of doubt? There are, in my opinion, a lot of reasons, but there are three that I want to talk about with you today. 1. Discouragement: John was accustomed to the open desert spaces; He now finds himself imprisoned in a dungeon. John was accustomed to being free, but now he finds himself confined by fetters and chains. He was confined to a situation he couldn't change, which made him think about things he wouldn't normally think about. (Note: How often have we found ourselves in this position? We are in a position that we cannot change. We now face an issue that we are unable to resolve. We are trapped in a prison that we are unable to leave. We occasionally also begin to doubt when that occurs. Be wary of feeling down; It can wreck havoc on your life. You may begin to question everything you know and believe when you are discouraged! 2. Disappointment: John must have imagined that Jesus would appear and free him. Jesus, after all, was the Messiah! He possessed David's scepter. Jesus had no limits; He must have been able to free John. It's possible that John lost hope and became discouraged when Jesus failed to save him. After all, wasn't that one of the Messiah's ministries? Isa. ill. 61:1; Luke 4:18 (To be noted: Again, we probably wouldn't admit it, but there is a tendency for us to become dissatisfied with the Lord when He does not act in accordance with our expectations or our requests. Have you ever considered the following: This was done by the Lord for someone; Why doesn't He do it for me, I don't know! If we are not careful, this disappointment can cause us to doubt Him.) 3. John was disappointed when he "heard...the works of Christ." John was waiting for the big news as the accounts of Jesus' preaching and miracles made their way into the prison. He was eagerly anticipating the day when someone would declare, "John, Jesus is the Messiah! He not only makes the blind see, raises the dead, and heals the sick, but He is also about to attack Rome and free us! John and all of Israel awaited that information. Matt. Ill. 3:12; Mal. 3:2; 4:1) John found himself imprisoned in this prison of doubt because he listened to his own fears and doubts. He heard me well today. When you pay attention to your thoughts; your feelings; how you see it; or you should listen to what your heart says: you're in trouble! Your eyes are not reliable; They miss some things. You can't trust your feelings; because we are commanded to walk in faith rather than emotion. Your heart cannot be trusted at all; Jer, it is a lie. 17:9. Even when we are unable to pinpoint what the Lord is doing, we must reach a point where we simply trust Him. We will frequently not see the Lord perform the actions we believe He should perform during our trials. John's issue is comparable to ours; We lose sight of the bigger picture. John had no idea that Jesus would have to die and rise again, and that it would take at least 2,000 years for Him to establish His kingdom. We frequently miss some of God's actions. We must trust Him because He knows more about the situation than we will ever know.) (Note: The fact that God does not sugarcoat the lives of His saints is a praise to the Lord. I am grateful that He allows us to see them as they are. In fact, the lives of God's people are filled with numerous instances of doubt. Consider Abram, who in Genesis 12:11–13 had abandoned everything he had known and loved to follow God and live as a pilgrim in a foreign land. He went to Egypt, where he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him. Consider Elijah, who stood on Mt. Carmel by himself, fought a nation, a false god, and a king, and prayed fire from heaven; begging God to let him die by crawling under that Juniper, 1 Kings 19:4. Consider Thomas, who refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead in John 20:24–25, despite having been prepared to die with Jesus (John 11:16). No, my friend, when you have doubts, you are not alone! In point of fact, you are not alone. However, that is not a reason to continue having doubts. If you don't address them and get rid of them, you'll end up in a terrible prison of doubt.) (Note: Have you ever been trapped in a state of doubt? Are you now there? Is Satan or the flesh attempting to divert your heart from the Lord's words or promises? Let me urge you to follow John's example if that is the situation you find yourself in. Instead of closing Jesus' door, run to Him and bring your doubts with you. He is willing to hear your doubts, respond to them, and free you from them, and He has no fear of them. The Lord has a challenge for you: Phil. 4:6-7.) II. v. 4: How Jesus Answered John: When Jesus hears the questions of the disciples of John, v. 6: The Demonstrations of this Prison A He does not respond with a harsh reprimand. Jesus could have said, "Who is John to question me? He saw Me being taken over by the Spirit. He is aware that I am the Christ. He is aware of it and has preached it! He has no reason to doubt me and no room for it! Go back to John and tell him to reconcile his heart to God! Jesus does not act that way! Jesus responds with patience, grace, and love to John's doubts when he hears them. Take note of His response: Go and show John once more...” Jesus is willing to assist John in resolving his issue. A lot of people would have been furious; Jesus responded lovingly. (Note: We sometimes doubt, but I wish we never did! Have you ever been discouraged and depressed in the same way as Elijah? Have you ever found yourself feeling hopeless, defeated, discouraged, and disillusioned? Everyone has! 1 Kings 19:1–16 reveals how tenderly and graciously the Lord served Elijah. Elijah was not rebuked by the Lord; He helped him, verses 5-8! He was not dismissed by God; In verses 9, 13, he reaffirmed his call. He was not yelled at by God; He was kind to him, verses 5, 7, 9, and 12. God did not delegate his ministry to anyone else; He assigned him a new task, verses 15–17. God prevented his doubts from persisting; In verse 18, he clarified the situation with a pointed encouragement. What's the use? When we find ourselves trapped in the prison of confusion, he will show us the same tenderness. He will travel to us and serve us there, Hebrew. 13:5; Matt. 20:28. 2 Corinthians says, "He will dispense grace sufficient for our need." 12:9. Rom. He will support us and give us the tools to continue for His glory. 8:27; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 Cor .15:57. He will comfort our troubled hearts, according to John 14:27; Phil. 4:7. Our doubts will be resolved in His time and manner. We are blessed to serve a loving, tolerant, and patient God! B. verses 4-5: How Jesus Assured John: Jesus simply directed John back to the Bible! Jesus seemed to be saying, "Just go back and tell John to read his Bible and he will understand" as He described everything He was doing. Some of the verses that Jesus might have been thinking of: Isa. 35:3-6; Isa. 61:1-2. It would appear that Jesus is stating, "Tell John that I am the Messiah." I'm carrying out the promises made by the prophets. Now, I partially fulfill my father's Word; When the time comes, I will finish the rest. John will see if you tell him to study the Bible. (Note: The Bible is the only way to get rid of our doubts! We can see our doubts disintegrate before our eyes if we can only read the Bible and believe that God will fulfill all of His promises and will keep His Word no matter what. People, you can rely on the Bible! Psa, he will uphold it. 138:2; Matt. 5:18; 24:35; 2 Cor. 1:20. He will carry out everything He has promised! Let the Bible dispel your doubts! Lay out your inquiries in front of God's Word and watch as He provides the answers you seek.) C. v. 6: What Jesus Taught John: This is the same instruction that Jesus gave to Thomas in John 20:27 when he questioned the resurrection. John needs to understand that the Lord does not require him to have all the answers. Despite life's mysteries, he wants John to believe. He wants John to believe in Jesus regardless of what the mind, heart, or eyes see or feel. He wants John to have faith in Him and believe in Him. (Note: Jesus desires the same thing from us as well! I am aware that there are numerous mysteries in this world. Why do decent people suffer? Why do infants become ill, suffer, and die? Why do good people seem to encounter a lot of challenges and difficulties? Why does it appear as though serving God does not always pay off in this world? Why is there so much sickness, pain, suffering, and death in this world? All of those queries will never be answered. Faith can be found stranded on the rocky shores of doubt if we let our minds and hearts dwell on them. We might develop into Asaph in Psalm 73. We have to get to a point where we simply forget about our doubts and put our faith in God for the things that we cannot see, feel, or comprehend. We must reach the point of obedient faith in His power, plans for our lives, and His promises. Let me bring to your attention two crucial facts: Isa says that our God is a God of Power. 40:12; Ex. 3:14; Luke 1:37; Job 42:2. Rom. says that our God is a God of purpose. 8:28; Isa. 46:10; Eph. 1:11. When we enter the prison of His persuasions, He wants us to realize that we can trust Him. III. v.7-11 THE DECLARATIONS OF THIS PRISON A. v. 7: Some Things That Aided John While He Was Imprisoned: After the disciples of John left Jesus, they returned to John and informed him of what they had seen and heard. Evidently, these factors assisted John in overcoming his anxieties and doubts. He never once questioned anything again. Additionally, take into consideration the fact that John willingly gave his life as a martyr for the glory of the Lord, Matt. 14:6-12. (Note: When we are allowed to enter the prison of doubt, we can be sure that the Lord will speak words of hope, encouragement, and blessing to us. He will have precisely what we require to escape that prison at the time we require it. I urge you once more to seek the assistance you require in His Word. If you learn to take the Lord at His word, you can walk in peace, confidence, and joy instead of worry, fear, and doubt.) B. John was kept in the prison from some things – After John's disciples leave, Jesus begins to talk about John's greatness. Pay attention to how Jesus refers to John the Baptist. He was not like a "reed shaken by the wind," as John was not tossed about by the shifting winds of political and religious favor, as stated in verse 7. He was not fragile like a reed; He held his balance like a rock. He was not "a man clothed in soft raiment," as stated in verse 8, and John was seeking an easy time. He did not arrive to rule, but rather to serve. Matt, he appeared to clear the way for the upcoming king when he arrived. 3:3-4. He was more than just "a prophet," as stated in verses 9 to 10. Mal, he was the actual fulfillment of prophecies from the Old Testament. 3:1. He was the "greatest" of those "born of women," as stated in verse 11. This is a reference to his exceptional character and privileges. He truly belonged to God; the final prophet of the Old Testament; and the Lord Jesus Christ's predecessor. He was truly exceptional. (Note: "notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" is the statement. This has nothing to do with character. The character of many Christians is not even close to that of John. However, our advantages far outweigh his! According to John 3:29, he was merely one of "the friends of the Bridegroom." 2 Cor. says that we are Christ's "Bride." 11:2. People who belong to the church enjoy greater privilege.) (Note: Why did Jesus not discuss John's greatness until after the disciples of John had left? It's possible that Jesus did not want to add the burdens already carried by John to the temptation of pride.) (Note: What I hope you take away from this final thought is the following: Heaven does not feel the need to reveal certain secrets to us. We frequently find ourselves in a state of doubt and fear, just like John did. We have no idea what Heaven is doing during those times. Isa, God has a plan and a purpose that neither you nor I can comprehend. 55:8-9. Even though God sometimes hides His plans from us, He still wants us to trust Him. You see, you never know what Heaven has planned for your life, just like John did. You might be about to see a wonderful and powerful use from God. However, He may need to conceal a few things from you before He can use you for that. Do you really want to put your faith in Him? In point of fact, you never know what the Lord is doing in your life even if you live it all. Do you really want to put your faith in Him? You may wonder what the Lord is doing in your life while you are in that prison of doubt and confusion. Heaven might not say; However, if the Lord decides to let you enter that prison, He does so because He recognizes in your character the kind of iron that can withstand the furnace of doubt and become pure. We say nice things to other people in front of them so that they will think of us favorably. We keep the bad things for them to see. Heaven isn't like that! Behind our backs, Jesus says the best things about us.) Conc: Today, it might appear that Heaven is keeping some things from you. Doubts and fears may fill both your heart and mind. Let me encourage you to approach the throne of grace with your doubts, anxieties, and issues. You might just get the answers you need today from the Lord. On the other hand, He might show you a lot of grace right now. This altar is accessible in the event of a need. You can be rescued if you get lost. You can return home if you have fallen behind. You can find peace in the midst of doubt and fear. Just follow His instructions.

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