Yesterday, we discussed a question John the Baptist sent to Jesus from prison. After Jesus answered it, he talked 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 fine expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in kings’ palaces. Then 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.’
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.”
(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.)
“For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let him hear.
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 mourn.’
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 her deeds.”
(Luke 7:24-35, Matthew 11:7-19)
Jesus shares some intriguing and awesome truths here:
- John was no ordinary prophet. He was the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1 and 4:5: the “messenger” and “Elijah” sent to prepare the way for the Messiah.
- John was the greatest person ever born up to that point but would be surpassed by even the least in God’s kingdom.
- Religious and political leaders were attempting to stop God’s kingdom by force. (Spoiler alert: it won’t work.)
- God’s own people — the “children” — were rejecting the austere John, the partying Jesus and their mutual call to repentance and joy.
- God’s wisdom was being proved right by Jesus’ actions.
Thank God that we can be part of his kingdom and a friend of Jesus forever!