The Book of Luke, Jesusí Response to John the Baptistís Question From Prison, Part II Ė Lesson 89
After giving an answer to Johnís question Jesus also sent a ďbeatitudeĒ with the disciples of John.
This beatitude was a challenge to John the Baptist that trust in Jesus will always be rewarded for we understand by Johnís question that doubt had crept into Johnís mind.
And doubt in Godís goodness will always bring defeatism or pessimism into a life.
Defeatism or pessimism will not further the cause of Christ.
And Jesus would not let defeatism or pessimism go unanswered for he said in:
Luke 7:23, And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
As we read last week the Amplified Bible writes it this way:
Luke 7:23, And blessed (happy - with life-joy and satisfaction in Godís favor and salvation, apart from outward conditions Ė and to be envied) is he who takes no offense in Me and who is not hurt or resentful or annoyed or repelled or made to stumble (whatever may occur.)
This is what perfect faith produces, a steady unwavering reliance on God regardless of whatever circumstances may come in life.
It is an absolute belief in Godís word as written to the Romans in:
Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
It is a confidence in God that He will take care of all things to bring about good for you, to bring about good for all those who love God, regardless of the circumstances that you may be called upon to face in life.
What peace complete faith brings for complete faith brings a reliance on Godís unwavering goodness!
What peace it is that will not permit fretting or worry to interfere with happiness and contentment in the Lord!
What a positive attitude complete trust in Godís goodness will bring!
Christianís have no license to murmur or complain or doubt for all things will turn out right for the believer, for God has ordained it to be so.
And what God ordains God will bring to pass.
After this beatitude to John, Jesus Christ turned to the people and spoke of John.
Luke 7:24- 28, And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A
reed shaken with the wind? 25But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kingsí courts. 26But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 28For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
From Jesusí address to the people it is obvious that the question that was asked by Johnís disciples was a question that was heard by the people surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was publicly asked of Jesus Christ.
They had seen the delegation from John and had heard Johnís question.
Jesus answer to John was also heard by the crowd and this speech that Jesus made to them about John was for the purpose of supporting John.
This support was conveyed to the crowd in spite of the doubt that John displayed concerning the very one whom he had publicly pointed out as the Messiah.
This response is a reminder to the crowd, who perhaps were already doubting that John was a prophet.
It was a reminder that John had a testimony that must be considered in any evaluation of him.
That crowd was no different than any crowd of today in quickly reaching a conclusion about a man apart from most of the evidence about that man.
In this passage Jesus desires to quench any conclusion that leads anyone to believe that John is a fickle, wavering person.
In this passage Jesus Christ is warning the people that it is wrong to condemn a person on the basis of one deviation from the straight course.
In order to form a true opinion about a man his entire life, past as well as present, must be taken into consideration.
We are so quick to categorize a person because of one fault and we are so quick to place him or her in that category of condemnation and we then relate to that person accordingly.
How lovely and gracious is our Lord Jesus Christ in this passage as he turns to face this crowd who has heard of Johnís doubt and Jesus answer.
So the Lord Jesus asks the crowd to reflect on Johnís past by asking several pointed questions.
These questions are to bring a reflection on the tremendous impact that John the Baptist had made on them during his earlier appearance in the wilderness of Jordan.
He knows their heart.
He knows what they are thinking.
He knows that they are so prone to
condemnation, as we are so prone to condemnation.
And he will not have it concerning John.
So He asks questions.
I think you can feel a sense of righteous anger in the questions and a revelation of Jesus Christís understanding of their hearts.
What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
What was it that made you travel all the way from Galilee to the Judean wilderness?
Was it perhaps to look at a man who resembled a reed swaying in the wind on the banks of the Jordan?
Of course, that could not have been the reason that drew them but the question was asked to make them think.
No one in their right mind would travel such a hard and strenuous distance to see such a sight common to the banks of the Sea of Galilee.
What drew the people to go out to him was the fact that he was the very opposite of such a reed.
The entire land of Israel was filled with men who were unstable, who were like reeds that were swayed by the winds of the opinions of the day.
Sounds like modern America does it not? Sounds like our own little town of Milton.
But here in the wilderness there was a man of a different sort.
At this very moment he lay in prison because he would not compromise one of Godís commandments.
Herodís sin was passed by in silence by all the Jewish authorities and the whole Jewish nation but never passed by for a moment by John the Baptist.
John was a rock in this matter and certainly not a reed swaying with the wind.
John was worthy of going out into the wilderness to hear.
John the Baptist had been thought of as a sturdy oak tree, not a trembling reed.
After asking this question without giving or getting an answer but getting the crowd to think, he asks another question?
25But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kingsí courts.
This man John was not of the men who lack backbone.
He was not of the men who wear soft garments, men who only reply, yes, yes, yes to those in authority and because of such allegiance are rewarded with a high office in the kingís palace.
John was not of the men who yielded to popular opinion, who bent to the will and the word of the influential and the mighty.
John was not of them who would reward such things and give a high place and the finest of garments for such service.
John was not living luxuriously while in Herodís palace for his stand against Herod.
John was not rewarded with soft clothing after pronouncing his strong no, no, no, to Herod.
That had only gotten him in prison.
The people who Jesus addresses know very well that John is a totally different individual.
He is not a reed, but an oak, he is not a compromiser with evil but a stalwart and steady defender of truth and righteousness.
He was not after the treasures of this life, the soft garments of this life, but he looked for his reward from God in the life to come
There was never any fault finding of John by the common people while he was in the wilderness preaching his stern message of judgment.
At that time John had been a popular hero.
But it appears that John needed defending as popular opinions about him were beginning to change.
It is for this reason that Jesus lifts up John and will not get on the side of any of his detractors.
So he asks another question:
26But what went ye out for to see? A prophet?
Did you go out into the wilderness to merely look at a prophet or did you go out to hear him and to let him move you to repentance and the baptism for the remission of sins.
What was in your heart which led you to John in the wilderness.
Go back to first things and repent for Jesus knew what was in their heart.
So he answers his own question about John as a prophet and in doing so he gives a true appraisal of John:
Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Yes, you went out to see a prophet and I assure you that he is much more than a prophet.
He is something beyond a prophet.
And He explains this ďmuch more than a prophetĒ by telling them that John not only prophesied but was himself also an object of prophesy.
He was himself the predicted forerunner of the Messiah for Jesus points to the prophet of Malachi and says that Malachi was writing of John the Baptist in Malachi 3:1, when he wrote:
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
John is the one prophet whose activity was predicted.
This made him more than a prophet.
John was the messenger who not only, like the other prophets, announced Christís coming but actually prepared the way for him and was immediately followed by him.
There was no vast period of time between this prophet and Christís appearing.
And because of this distinction Jesus Christ places John the Baptist as the prophet among prophets and in no uncertain terms says:
28For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: