How Exclamations Turn into Question Marks
Today’s Reading: Matthew 11
Conditions or circumstances can affect perspectives. What goes on in our lives can determine our points of view and how we define important things—most seriously, our view and definition of God. Sometimes our circumstances can take us from living an exclamation-mark life to living a question-mark life.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. John the Baptist was an exclamation man. He was known as a prophet who called people to repent of their sins and baptized them. He’s most well-known, however, as the one who baptized Jesus.
Read the following verses about him from the book of John—and pay close attention to John the Baptist’s punctuation:
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36)
We see two exclamation-point verses here. He speaks with certainty and confidence. But then something happens. A change in John’s circumstances began to change his perspective: “When John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (Matthew 11:2-3).
What happened to the exclamation points? John went from an exclamation to a question. And it all hinged on two words—two huge words: “John . . . imprisoned.”
These two words changed his perspective on Jesus. His exclamation points got punched in the gut and doubled over into a question mark. That’s what a question mark is—an exclamation point that got punched in the gut.
Here’s what John needed to know and what we need to remember:
• We change, but God doesn’t.
• Circumstances change, but God doesn’t.
• Life changes, but God doesn’t.
If Jesus was the Lamb of God two years earlier, John’s imprisonment doesn’t change who Jesus is. Our circumstances can’t make God any different.
John let being in prison decide his definition of Jesus. Don’t let whatever circumstances arise in your life define Christ.
I’m in trouble.
I’m in debt.
I’m in a divorce.
I’m in a wheelchair.
I’m in court today.
I’m in rehab.
I’m in hot water.
I’m in therapy.
Those are circumstances; those don’t define who Christ is. Know that with all that going on, you can still be in Christ. The “in Christ” part of you doesn’t change—no matter your situation—because He doesn’t change. As the writer of Hebrews assures us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, TLB).
Jesus’ response to (and about) John is pretty amazing:
This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, Who Will prepare your Way before you.’ Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! (Matthew 11:10-11)
John was in the worst position he had ever been in. And Jesus said that this did not change what He thought about him. Jesus was saying, When your exclamation-mark life changes to a question-mark life, I am still who I am, and I do not change my exclamation-mark feelings about you. Just because you doubt Me doesn’t mean I doubt My love for you and what I think of you.
Even in your worst state, you are still the greatest to God. Jesus gave the highest statement of John after John gave Him the lowest statement. John asked, “Who are You really?” And Jesus responded that no one has been born greater than John. That’s pretty amazing, right?
So, if your Sunday exclamation point got punched in the gut on Monday, straighten up and remember that God is still the same.