The Burden of Doubt

There are a lot of things in life that weigh us down. Stress might be the number one culprit of the burdensome life. Brain chemistry issues can lead to depression which can become a weight too heavy to bear. Money running out before the month does weighs heavy on many people in America these days. But in the realm of religion, Christianity in particular, my gut says that doubt is the heaviest spiritual weight. And it isn’t just a modern phenomenon.

Finding the context of a given lectionary text is always important.  Given that this is my first week back after three weeks up at Sewanee, I’ve been a bit behind schedule in my exegetical sermon prep this week, but I have finally realized that this Sunday’s lesson has a weighty context indeed.  JBap is rotting away in Herod’s prison, a victim of his own piety, Herod’s weakness, and Herod’s [brother’s] wife’s cunning.  Sitting in jail has given JBap plenty of time to reflect on his life and ministry, and as he pondered on these things, doubt began its insidious creep.  Jesus, whom John baptized, was clearly the Anointed One, God’s beloved Son, and yet his ministry didn’t look like the one who would come to restore Israel.  Jesus spent way too much time on the margins: in back water towns; beside unclean water wells; engaging with people who couldn’t further his career politically or militarily.  And so JBap began to wonder.

Is this Jesus really the one?

The weight of his doubt continued to grow until he couldn’t stand it anymore, and he sent some disciples to ask Jesus if he really was the one.

I think many of us can relate to John’s plight.  We who have decided to follow Jesus have, at first, gladly cast off our burdens and taken up his easy yoke.  In time, however, we’ve noticed the load getting heavier and heavier.  Even as Jesus invites us to stop adding things to the wagon, we begrudge him for not making things lighter.  Doubt creeps in and weighs us down even more.

Is this Jesus really the one?

Again and again, Jesus answers our doubts in the same way he did JBap’s.  “What do you see?  What have you heard?  The blind can see.  The deaf can hear.  The captives have been told the Good News.  My yoke really is easy and burden really is light.  If you’d just stop adding unnecessary burdens to the load and follow my way, you’ll understand.”

It is hard to give up those burdens, to be sure.  Somewhere deep down inside, we really like the idea of being able to carry all our crap with us.  But it holds us back from our full potential.  It keeps the Kingdom at bay.

Is this Jesus really the one who can set us free?

Yes. Yes he is.

3 thoughts on “The Burden of Doubt

  1. Steve, I tried to email this to someone. The anti-spam box says “type two words” but the picture only shows a number and two partial numbers. So I just copied the text and sent it from my email. But you might want to know there’s a problem.
    Hope Sewanee was good (sounded exhausting). Best, Marlee

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