23. John sends messengers to Jesus
NOW when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus. Unto him they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or do we look for another?
And in that same hour Jesus cured many of their infirmities; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
Then said Jesus unto the two disciples [of John],
Go your way, and tell John again what things ye have seen and heard: how that the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
¶When the messengers of John were departed, Jesus began to speak unto the people concerning John,
What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts, in kings’ houses.
But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Verily, I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater prophet than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. Jesus said,
¶But whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling unto their fellows, one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented: ye have not wept.
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and they say, Behold a man gluttonous and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
But wisdom is justified of all her children.
Scripture: Matthew 11:2-15
Meditation 1 of 1:
Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God? Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born. Who can top that as a compliment? But in the same breath Jesus says that the least in the kingdom of God is even greater than John!That sounds like a contradiction, right? Unless you understand that what Jesus was about to accomplish for our sake would
supercede all that the prophets had done and foreseen in the past. John is the last and greatest of the prophets of the old covenant. He fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets: to be fingers pointing to Christ, God’s Anointed Son and Messiah.John prepared the way for the Messiah and he pointed others to Jesus the Messiah at the River Jordan when he exclaimed,
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) John saw from a distant what Jesus would accomplish through his death on the cross — our redemption from bondage to sin and death and our adoption as sons and daughers of God and citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who point the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus the Messiah. Jesus confirms that John has fulfilled the promise that Elijah would return to herald the coming of the Messiah (Malachi
4:5). Jesus declares that John is nothing less that the great herald whose privilege it was to announce the coming of the Messiah. Jesus equates the coming of his kingdom with violence. John himself suffered violence for announcing that the kingdom of God was near. He was thrown into prison and then beheaded. Since John’s martyrdom to the present times the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and persecution at the hands of violent men. The blood of the martyrs throughout the ages bear witness to this fact. The martyrs witness to the truth — the truth of Jesus Christ and his saving plan for the world. Their testimony and death prove victory rather than defeat for the kingdom of God. Through Christ’s victory on the cross they obtain the glorious crown of victory and everlasting life with Christ. Are you ready to witness to Christ and to suffer violence if necessary for his sake?
Why did John, while in prison, send his disciples to question Jesus? John wanted them to hear and see firsthand from the Messiah himself before John would meet his fate, martyrdom at the hands of King Herod. Jesus says that his miracles and message about the kingdom or reign of God are proof enough for John and his disciples to recognize as the fulfilment of Isaiah’s
prophecy foretelling the signs and wonders which the Messiah would perform (see Isaiah 35). Jesus in his characteristic fashion also returned one question with another. What do you see in John the Baptist? And why does Jesus contrast John with a reed? Unlike a reed which is spineless and can be bruised easily, John stands as a pillar of truth which no demonic force can
overtake because his heart is set on God and burns with the fire of God’s truth and love. Someone who is tepid — careless, half-hearted, and lukewarm — is easily swayed by whatever hits his or her fancy. If our heart is not filled with the love of God easily grows cold and our faith wanes. If the heart feels emptied of God it seeks to fill the void with other things, which not being God, cannot bring true satisfaction. If we want to be like John the Baptist, then we must set our heart, mind, soul, and strength on one thing, and one thing only — the Lord Jesus Christ and his kingdom of everlasting peace, joy, and righteousness.
There is no room for compromise. We are either for Jesus and his kingdom or against it. We either give him our full allegiance and submission or we hold on to the reigns of running life as we want it to go.
“Lord, stir my zeal for your righteousness and for your kingdom. Free me from complacency and from compromising with the ways of sin and worldliness that I may be wholeheartedly devoted to you and to your kingdom.”