Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jesus and John the Baptist (Luke 7:18-35)

John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them,  he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”  At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.  So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.  Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

This should come as no surprise.  John has been out in the wilderness proclaiming the coming of the kingdom.  He has been getting the people ready for Jesus' message.  Now that he has heard about Jesus, he sends some of his disciples to go ask Jesus if he is the Messiah.  When asked, Jesus' reply may seem a little cryptic, but it's not.  He is quoting Scripture that tells what the Messiah will accomplish.  John will hear this message and know that Jesus said "yes, I am the one."

After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?  If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.  But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  This is the one about whom it is written:  

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, 
   who will prepare your way before you.’

I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John.  But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

Jesus turns aside to the people to explain John's role in the kingdom of God.  He identifies John as the voice crying out in the wilderness.  This would have been a prophecy that people knew about.  If the messenger has been born and has done his job, then that means that Messiah either has been born or will be born soon.  This is something pretty phenomenal, really.  The long-awaited Messiah is in our midst and he is teaching us.  Here, he is sharing about John.  It's pretty amazing that John has highest stature among us, yet in the kingdom of God, least is greater than John.  Wow.  What does that tell you about those in the kingdom of God?

Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

“‘We played the pipe for you, 
   and you did not dance; 
we sang a dirge, 
   and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  But wisdom is proved right by all her children.

Now Jesus is trying to find a way to describe the people.  The analogy is a tough one to understand.  This generation is like the guy who did not dance when the music played.  This generation is like the guy who did not cry when the saddest song was sung.  In other words, you did not do what you were supposed to do.

When John (who did not eat bread or drink wine) sang his song, you did not repent; instead, you accused him of having a demon.  When Jesus came (he did eat bread and drank wine), you accused him of being a glutton and drunkard.  Your accusations were the wrong response to the song he sang.

"But wisdom is proved right by all her children."
In other words, the truth will come out.  You will one day see that the messages of John and Jesus were true.  They required a response from you and you gave the wrong response.

Sadly, nothing has changed today.  People get hung up on the accusations against Jesus that they don't take the time to here what his message is.  What is it that Jesus is trying to tell you today?  Are you listening to what he has to say or are you making excuses about why you can't (or won't) hear him?

You don't have to clean yourself up or get your act together first.  Come to Jesus just as you are.   He loves you just the way you are, but He loves you way too much to leave you that way!  I pray today that your heart, mind, and soul will be open to whatever it is the Holy Spirit of the Living God has to say to you.

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