Jesus and John the Baptist

Jesus responds to questions about he and John the Baptist: Matthew 11:2-19, Luke 7:18-35

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One Reply to “Jesus and John the Baptist”

  1. John the Baptist, imprisoned for his zealous remarks toward King Herod, wants to be sure his life was not simply spent, he wants some reassurance. In our culture, Jesus’ response might be taken as indirect or dismissive, but I believe John got the answer he truly longed for–this was indeed the long-awaited Messiah!

    Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

    Amazing. At this point in reading the New Testament gospels, the fact that Jesus is healing “many who had diseases” is old news, something we just take for granted. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the scene: Jesus, healing and preaching, some guys come up and ask, “Hey, are your really the Messiah?” Seriously? Ok, fair enough, they’ve been fooled before, the Old Testament is full of examples that remind us all of their failures. Indeed, the expansion of laws by the Pharisees was intended to keep them out of trouble, so it’s fair for them to ask and Jesus doesn’t rebuke them for the question, he simply answers with a rather obvious statement.

    John’s disciples had the answer, but the rest of us might still have some questions, so Matthew and Luke provide more details and a stunning endorsement for John the Baptist:

    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.

    Both accounts remind us that we have an eternal question to answer, one that goes beyond this time on earth. Jesus wants to be sure and keep everyone on point, so he immediately shifts the conversation back to one of salvation, “Yes, John, you got it right, now listen everyone: believe in me and have eternal life!”

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

    One of the most displeasing terms I’ve heard for describing modern denominational Christians is the “frozen chosen” where worship is routine, singing is mechanical, timecard punched. The Pharisees would be quite happy with the routine, but we must not! Jesus’ message is one of urgency, but not panic. First-Responders understand the difference. They’re trained to handle emergencies with skill and efficiency. Those successful in business also know the difference, in fact, anyone who we regard with greatness is adept at handling pressure. How is this? To simplify, I’d say they are focused on a goal far beyond the immediate issue. The marathon runner isn’t concerned about the next step, rather the finish line (though the various intermediate points will garner attention).

    The ultimate goal not only provides consistent direction, it keeps us focused. Jesus wants to make sure that we don’t misunderstand that. We should dance when the music is joyous and we should mourn the loss of loved ones. We don’t stay in one state or the other, we move with life.

    Lord, keep us focused on the ultimate prize and help us navigate the daily grind.

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