Rejecting the Real Jesus – Gospel in Life

Rejecting the Real Jesus

Tim Keller |  September 22, 1996

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  • Salvation
  • Understanding the Gospel
Matthew 11:16-24
RS 72-3


At one time John the Baptist had been very supportive of Jesus, but now he’s filled with doubts and he’s feeling offended by what Jesus has said and done. In the verses we look at today, Jesus responds to John the Baptist’s questions and doubts. Jesus is saying why so many people don’t believe in him. He is dealing with unbelief. And he’s actually talking about wisdom.

Wisdom is knowing what is real. Sometimes we talk about people who know a lot but are not very wise. They don’t know what’s really there. Jesus is trying to say, “Why is it that so many people look at me and don’t understand who I am?”

In Matthew 11, Jesus tells us about 1) the power of unbelief, 2) the character of unbelief, and 3) the solution for unbelief.

Matthew 11:16–24

Matthew 11 narrates an enlightening conversation between Jesus and John the Baptist. This discussion helps us understand what unbelief is, how strong it can be, and the nature of it. Jesus doesn’t just talk about John’s doubts, He also shows a way for those who are struggling with a lack of faith. From this, we learn about the significance of wisdom and perceiving the truth, which helps us grasp who Jesus really is and how to overcome doubts.

1. The power of unbelief

When Jesus talks to the people of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, we see that unbelief is not just not having faith. It’s a strong force that fights and fears Jesus’ message. Even when people have plenty of evidence and reasons to believe, some still doubted Jesus, even after He came back from the dead. This shows that unbelief isn’t just about not having enough proof. We need to realize how strong unbelief can be in us and not just think it’s about not having evidence.

2. The character of unbelief

When Jesus uses the example of children, He shows the complex relationship between people and God. He shows how what we want and fear can make us lie to ourselves and reject God’s truth. How we see reality is often influenced by what we believe deep down, which can make us justify bad situations, like C.S. Lewis said about people in hell. In the end, if we don’t have faith in Jesus, we could struggle with making wise decisions and figuring out what’s right.

3. The solution for unbelief

Being a Christian means accepting both the hard parts, like repentance and needing a Savior (which John the Baptist represents), and the hopeful parts, like grace and acceptance (which Jesus embodies). Being saved isn’t about what we do, it’s about what Christ did. This means we have to admit that we can’t save ourselves and understand that grace isn’t an easy way out. While Christianity acknowledges that sin and brokenness are real, it also offers eternal life and strength through Jesus. This means we should read the Bible with an open mind and pray for understanding.



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