Luke: Jesus Affirms John the Baptist

Read: Luke 7:18-35

Affirmation. We all need to be affirmed by qualified sources, those whom we esteem to be an authority in our particular ministry. A car mechanic might not think working on the fuel injection system is a ministry, but I beg to differ! Everyone is a minister, each is an evangelist for that which they are wired to serve. I think we long for assurance that what we’re doing at this moment is the right thing, that it’s meaningful and important; otherwise, why do it?

Why should I type these words? Is it worth the time invested? The difference between good and great is often the affirmation that the task has some enduring impact.

In this morning’s passage, we’re somewhat shocked to read that John the Baptist actually needs some assurance that Jesus is who he’s been preparing the way for, that his ministry was on target and effective. I’m pretty sure John knows that his days are numbered. In light of his eminent execution, he wants to leave the world knowing he hit the target.

The way Jesus handles this situation models how we should disciple others, how we lead by honoring those who are doing their part for growing the kingdom, no matter how seemingly insignificant. This is not a simple pat-on-the-back, nor is it insincere, but I think it’s exactly what John needed to hear, as well as the others that Jesus addresses.

Are You Sure?

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?” Luke 7:18-19

John the Baptist was a prominent, notable figure in his day. Many people knew about his ministry and were compelled to be baptized by he and his disciples in response to his message.  Jesus even submitted to baptism by John. Perhaps while he is in chains, thanks to Herod, he thinks about the prophesies of the Messiah, how He will come and change the world. In those dark moments in prison, I wonder if John started to imagine how he would like to see the Messiah, his definition of who Jesus should be.

In sports, we refer to this as taking your eye off the ball, missing the catch because you were watching the oncoming defender or swinging at a ball that is nowhere to be found. Strike!  Fortunately, there are three strike to an out and four downs in a series–we get another chance.

John takes a swing and sends two for verification. Did he doubt? Yes. If the cousin of Jesus had doubts, rest assured your doubts are in good hands.

Jesus Responds

“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard…Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Luke 7:22-23

He could have said lots of things, but Jesus is proud of John, He is pleased with his ministry and is careful in his rebuke in verse 23, but make no mistake, Jesus smacks him for asking. And Peter and Thomas a bit later on. And you and me.

Here’s the thing, Jesus is completely truthful, but he has no desire to squash John or us. The mirror must reflect what it sees, but poorly created mirrors distort reality. Jesus is pure and perfect, yet chooses words carefully to show His appreciation for John while using his question as a teachable moment for those gathered. Cool stuff!

Children in the Marketplace

I love the parenthetical statement that Luke provides in Luke 7:29-30, but the Pharisees…

Jesus provides a parable of finger-pointing kids arguing for no valid reason. The Pharisees and teachers of the law have no clue. They refused to be baptized for sure, but more than that, they refused to see what was right in front of them.

Greg Wiens loves to talk about finding your A-Game. This is based on introspective analysis that is most useful when viewed from those who know us best, our friends and associates. It’s often difficult to see if one is really working within their greatest strengths and gifts. There is great value in affirming a brother or sister in Christ, providing appropriate feedback that they are doing what they are called to do.

Who should you affirm today?

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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