1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Luke, John the Baptistís Question From Prison  Ė Lesson 87

 

Luke 7:20-23, When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

 

It is obvious from this passage that upon hearing Johnís question the Lord Jesus Christ did not immediately respond.

 

We can always learn much if we look at the response of the Lord Jesus Christ to questions and here we can learn much in what he did not say in response to Johnís question.

 

One thing we learn is that Jesus did not do what John demanded.

 

Jesus did not make an announcement that He was or that He was not the Messiah.

 

Johnís question was posed in order to get an answer but Jesus didnít respond to the question with a direct answer as John would wish.

 

Nor did Jesus give John His personal attention either.

 

He knew what situation John was in. 

 

He did not rush to his side knowing that he was hurting and possibly in mental anguish while in Herodís prison.

 

Jesus did not tell John the answers to his problems which may have put his mind at ease from our perspective.

 

From our study of the life of Christ we know that Johnís understanding of the prophecies concerning the Messiah and his understanding of the order and timing of events to come was incomplete. 

 

Jesus could have straightened John out.

 

He could have laid out the Fatherís entire ďplan of the ages,Ē but the Lord Jesus did not.

 

He could have given John personal instruction in theology and eschatology.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ knows everything, including the horrible death that John will soon face, but he chose to share only some of what he knew with his servants and that includes us.

 

The principle in which Jesus operated as he answered John was the principle of faith.

 

We are to walk by faith and not by sight so God tells us some things and withholds other things.

 

This again is designed to promote a life of faith for access to God is only by faith.

 

Jesusí response therefore to John was very simple.

 

He simply told Johnís disciples to tell him what they had witnessed:

 

Isnít this how we are to exercise faith? 

 

Donít we also have the witness of the disciples as to what they heard and saw? 

 

This is what God has given and from this we are to walk by faith as John was to walk by faith. 

 

We are to believe what God tells us in his word and not be filled with questions concerning things for which he provides no answers.  

 

Some folks do not believe because God has not provided all the answers to their questions. 

 

They will die in their unbelief.

 

We are to walk by faith in the word that is given by God.

 

So Jesus told Johnís disciples this:

 

Luke 7:22, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

 

Wrapped up in this telling of the disciples of what they had seen is the solution to Johnís problem.

 

And it also is the solution of any problem we may have as we also walk by faith. 

 

God has not left us to be clueless nor did he leave John to be in the dark. 

 

We have the scriptures which provide all the light we need to walk by faith. 

 

If we seek additional light it is only so that we may walk by sight but that is against the principle of God that the just shall live by faith. 

 

Jesus was not about to give additional light to John for he expected him to walk in the light that he was already given for that walk would be a walk of faith.

 

We see in this passage that John has tripped because he was not walking in the light of the Word of God. 

 

And without a proper understanding of the Word of God we will also trip.

 

John was to do what every believer must do; he was to compare the prophecies of the Old Testament with the words and deeds of Jesus Christ.

 

God has so gifted us that we are not without knowledge when it comes to knowing his Son. 

 

Did Jesus and Jesus only fulfill those promises and prophecies of the Bible which speak of the coming Savior of the world?

 

If the deeds and words of Jesus, as reported by the gospel accounts, fulfill the Old Testament prophecies then Jesus is the Messiah.   

 

And God gives to everyone in his word enough light to reach that conclusion.

 

Anyone who claims to be Messiah must measure up to the standards which God has set for Him in the Old Testament.

 

And all those standards point to one man only in all of history and that man was the Lord Jesus.

 

Jesus does not tell John that he is the Messiah for many other men have made the same claim and continue to do so today.  

 

Just this week we have learned that Sun Myung Moon of South Korea is the Messiah.  

 

Sun Myung Moon claims to be "sinless", he claims to have more wisdom than Jesus, he has often said that he is greater than Jesus and he has even claimed that Jesus Christ has bowed down to him!

 

How do I know that he is not the Messiah?  I know that he is not, only because of the Word of God.

 

Jesus did not solve Johnís problem by informing of how all of the prophecies would be fulfilled in the future, by one Messiah and by two comings.

 

But Jesus encouraged John to study the Scriptures and to believe them, even though certain truths seemed not to harmonize.

 

Jesus did not attempt to use His influence or charisma, but pointed to the deeds which He has done and to the Scriptures which speak of those deeds.

 

John was to rightly divide the word of truth as any believer was called upon to do and continues to be called upon to do.

 

Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

If Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament, then the Bible gives us all that we need to know that He is the Messiah.

 

Compare the words and works of Jesus Christ that He told the disciples to carry back to John with the Old Testament prophecies in Isaiah.

 

This is what John was to do and this is what we are to do that we may not be offended in Jesus Christ.

 

Those passages in Isaiah are:

 

Isaiah 29:18,  And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.

 

Isaiah 35:5-6 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

 

Johnís assurance that Jesus was Israelís Messiah should come from the knowledge that the words and deeds of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies.

 

For these prophecies spoke of His healing ministry and of His preaching the good news to the poor and the oppressed.

 

John needed to get back to the Word, the Word which He had proclaimed.

 

By Johnís question John had divided what God had joined together.

 

John had filtered out the salvation and healing texts and focused only on the judgment texts.

 

But the scriptures place the two themes together.

 

Look again at Isa. 29:18 and the verses that follow which include judgment that will come in due time.

 

Isa. 29:18-21,  And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. 19The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: 21That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.

 

God has in this prophecy and others joined together the two themes of mercy and justice, of salvation and judgment.

 

It will take two comings for these promises to be fulfilled and if we rightly divide the Word of Truth we will understand that the Lord Jesus Christ will accomplish both promises.

 

He will accomplish salvation for those who trust in Him; and He will accomplish divine justice on those who refuse to repent and receive the grace of God that is offered in Jesus Christ.

 

It is such a hard thing to be a balanced believer for we tend to emphasize some aspects of the scriptures over other aspects.

 

John emphasized one aspect of prophecy to the exclusion of the other.

So when Jesusí first coming was distinguished by mercy and grace, John leaned to his own understanding that he had perhaps designated the wrong Messiah, rather than to question his own thinking and theology.

 

Perhaps He had forgotten that the dove that represented the Holy Spirit had abode upon this man Jesus where he was also told that this man would baptize with the Holy Ghost. 

 

And further John said in:  John 1:34-36, And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

 

Here is where the saying, ďNo doubt the trouble is with you,Ē comes to the fore. 

 

Never think the trouble is with God, the trouble is never with God.

 

Jesusí words as is the usual case, take John back to the Book, which is the only standard for our thinking and conclusions.

 

Jesusí ministry was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and therefore it is John who must change and not Jesus.  

 

This is what trust is all about. 

 

Trust does not require that God meets your expectations. 

 

God is not to be created in your image!

 

Trust means that Godís will is everything. 

 

All you have to do is follow.

 

The bottom line is that John had unrealistic, inaccurate expectations of God.

 

His expectations with regard to the Messiah and His ministry were wrong, and thus they came into conflict with the ministry and message of Christ.

 

John tried to change Christ to conform to his expectations, rather than to change his expectations.

 

Jesus had become, as it were, a stumbling block to John for he did not match up to what John had in mind.

 

And so our Lordís final message to John is one which encourages him not to stumble over our Lord:

 

Luke 7:23, And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be

offended in me.

 

So Jesus offers a ĒbeatitudeĒ to John. 

 

He does not scold him or reprimand him but gives this as an encouragement.

 

He wants John to be blessed and he has told him to get into the word for that blessing. 

 

For without getting into the word in order to know this Jesus and who he is John will continue to be tripped up for that is what this word offended means.

 

This verse could be read in this manner:  Blessed is he, whoever is not trapped or tripped up in regard to me.

 

Offended means in the Greek, skandalizoŰ  skan-dal-id'-zo  which means to entrap, or trip up.

 

So he reminds John that a special blessing belongs to anyone who does not fall into this trap but continues by Godís grace to trust regardless of the circumstances. 

 

I saw in the parking lot at the ball fields this week the bumper sticker ďTry JesusĒ. 

 

Now if you simply try Jesus you will be offended by the Jesus of the Bible for he will not meet your expectations and you will soon go try another. 

 

The word is not ďTry JesusĒ but ďTrust Jesus.Ē 

 

Follow him wherever he goes.  

 

You are allowed by God to know him through his word and his word alone. 

 

If you add or subtract from his word you will be offended for he will not adjust to your addition or your subtraction.

The trap is set for those who do not rightly divide the word of God.

 

The trap is thinking that God is going in a certain direction when in fact he is going in another direction. 

 

The trap is in thinking that your thinking is right and that Godís thinking is wrong. 

 

This kind of trap is fatal for it destroys faith and spiritual life. 

 

The danger to which Jesus points is fatal - blessed is he who escapes it.

 

John is not to let the absence of certain works like judgment blind him to the wonderful works that are now being done by the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

He is to be satisfied with these works because they are being done by the one that had been pointed out by the Sprirt of God as the Son of God.

 

He is to trust that in due time the other works of judgment that John wishes to see will follow just as these are now being done.

 

The words and works of Jesus Christ bear witness that he is the Messiah who meets all the qualifications foretold and required from the Old Testament scriptures.

 

John is to rest in that and to trust that all the works that he expects will come about in Godís good order and Gods good timing.