Lesson 44: A Message from John the Baptist
Matthew 11:2-30, Luke 7:36-50
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. This is lesson #44. We read about John the Baptist sending two disciples to Jesus in Luke 7:18-35 in our last lesson. As a review to that material, we would like to start this lesson by reading Matthew's account in Matthew ch. 11. Let's read v.2-19 at this time. Are you ready? "Now when John had heard in the prison of the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: 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. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness 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 are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and 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 than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven 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 Elijah, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and he have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of here children."
O.K. the thrust of John's inquiry is in v.3, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" I do not necessarily look upon that question as implying that John's faith was wavering. When John spoke of "he that should come," it's quite clear that he did not question that a Messiah would come. What John was hearing about Jesus, there in prison, probably didn't match up with John's concept of Christ's mission. It was the popular Jewish concept that when the Messiah came; He would immediately declare himself as a great earthly king and liberate the Jews nationally. Whether that was John's concept or NOT, I'm NOT sure. John recognized Jesus WAS from God and testified of that fact as his very mission. Yet, John may not have been absolutely clear on the finality of the Messiah. Jesus' reply to John begins in the middle of v.4. and is simply, Go tell John what you see and hear. (#1) The blind receive their sight. (#2) The lame walk. (#3) Lepers are cleansed. (#4) The deaf hear. (#5) The dead are raised up. (#6) The poor have the gospel preached to them. In addition to this, Luke mentioned infirmities, plagues and evil spirits. I think you'll have to agree; that's a pretty impressive list. And although you and I understand that statement and see the wisdom in it; it may have carried a more personal message to John. Jesus had great respect for John. And after Jesus had told the messengers what to tell John; Jesus began to comment about John. Most of the people looked at John as a nothing. Jesus described their concept of John as a mere dried up weed responding to the wind in v.7. They certainly were NOT impressed with John's clothing. What was their conclusion? Were they really looking for a prophet? If they were, then Jesus affirms that John was even more than a prophet. John conveyed God's message to mankind. In Matt. 11:10 Jesus affirmed that John fulfilled Malachi 4:5. So, if anyone ever questions the last two verses in the O.T.; you can TELL THEM Jesus said it refers to John the Baptist. But, some of our religious friends and neighbors don't believe Elijah (in those last two verse of the O.T.) means John. But, Jesus said in Matt. 11:14, here,' "this is Elijah, which was for to come." Now, who would want argue with that? Well, you answer the question. But, you be prepared the next time they come around to visit/because, they're out there! In Luke 7:27, Jesus quoted from Isa. 40:3 as testimony of John's greatness. Jesus said in Matt. 11:11, that John was the greatest man that was ever born. Now, it says born of woman; but, I don't know anybody; born of anything else do you? Some are trying for test tubes; but, they haven't made it YET! Then, look at the last part of v.ll, "he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." i.e. greater than John. Why did Jesus say that? Well you see, John was not a citizen of the kingdom that John and Jesus both preached was "at hand", i.e. eminent. Why was John NOT in the kingdom? Because, it hadn't come yet! And beyond that, this shows that NO ONE, at that time, had entered the kingdom. AND, THAT tares ANOTHER denominational doctrine all to smitherines. But, if you'll study this N.T. far enough; you'll discover that Christians, in the last half of the N.T. are said to be in the kingdom. Try Col. 1:13. Jesus said we are to seek that kingdom, first and foremost. Matt. 6:33. Now, look a v.29-30 in Luke's account. These are NOT the words of Jesus. Luke injected these two verses. What did Luke say? Let me ask you. How did the Pharisees and Lawyers in v.30 REJECT the counsel of God against themselves? Did you find that? "being NOT baptized" And, don't say that very loud, some don't like that. Then, Matthew and Luke both recorded Jesus' little parable about what Jesus would "liken this generation?" Jesus said they reminded him of children playing games. If they played something happy, some wouldn't dance. If they played something sad, some wouldn't cry. You just can't please'em all. John came NOT eating and NOT drinking and some said John had a devil. Jesus came eating and drinking and some said Jesus was a glutton, a wino and a friend of sinners. Would Jesus classify our generation as a little childish too? What do you think? Wisdom is justified of her children.
Let's read a few more verses in Matthew ch. 11. We're going to start in v.20. Matt. 11:20-24, are you ready? "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which Mere done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."
O.K. v.20 is connected to what we've just covered. This sermon was given, no doubt, some place in Galilee; probably in Capernaum. To "upbraid" means to blame or reprove. Jesus was simply saying that these cities would pay eternally for their lack of repentance. There was no great accusation of gross fleshy sins, homosexuality and baseness as was the case with the Sodomites. The point is that great spiritual truths HAD BEEN presented there and had been blatantly rejected. But, God taows our opportunities and these opportunities will be taken into account on Judgment day. Capernaum was an especially favored place; because, Jesus made his home there. Sodom, YOU PROBABLY KNOW was the wicked city where lot lived and was destroyed for it's wickedness in Gen. ch. 19. You
see, Sodom was not privileged to see the miracles and the great works of Jesus; which Capernaum has seen. Chorazin is city # 14 on your MAP-WORKSHEET. Chorazin was about two miles north west of Capernaum. And although Jesus had apparently preached there, this is the first mention of Chorazin. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities; thus, mostly Gentile. There is a divine principle here we should learn. To have an opportunity and not use it is looked upon as a very wicked thing by Jesus. Jesus will be the judge! Do your remember John 5:22?
Now, v.25-30. Let's finish the chapter. Matt. 11:25-30, let's read. "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast reveled them unto babes. Even so, Father? for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Notice how these things link up. In v.16-19 Jesus had rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their fault-finding attitude. Then, Jesus shows that the people in those cities of Galilee were favored above other places and other times. He emphasized the principle: where more is given, more 3s expected. Then in v.25-27, Jesus broke into a prayer of thanksgiving, praise and appreciation to the Heavenly Father. Because, God has withhold these understandings from the wise but revealed them unto children. This, of course does NOT mean the truly wise. It means those who THINK they are wise in conceit, vanity and egotism. You see, it's the inner-man principle and the beatitudes. Then in v.27, Jesus gave a mini-version of the speech in John ch. 5 that we covered in our last lesson. (#1) God the Father has delivered ALL THINGS to Christ (the Son). (#2) NO MAN can know the Son, i.e. understand who Jesus WAS and IS except that knowledge come from God. That goes back to the way Jesus was reveal, witnessed, and evidenced. (#3) "Neither knoweth any man the Father" except this knowledge be gained through a relationship with the Son. Then, with this thought in mind; Jesus extends perhaps the most tender invitation in all scripture. "Come unto me..."- Everyone is invited. Jesus promised rest. The idea of labor, heavy burdens and weariness is associated with sin. Sins will be forgiven or remitted if we obey Jesus, become his disciple and serve Him. Jesus said he was and is the personification of the beatitudes. But, even in this tender invitation; there is the implication we must DO SOMETHING to accept that invitation. We must (#1) come to Jesus. And (#2) we must accept the yoke of Jesus, whatever that implies. Jesus invites us; but the initiative for accepting that invitation is left to us.
To close this lesson, I would like to read about Jesus in the home of Simon the Pharisee. This is Luke 7:36-50. Let's read. "And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And lie saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." This occasion brought Jesus together with two very different persons. Simon invited Jesus and Jesus accepted this Pharisee's invitation. Jesus was not biased against the Pharisees; he was concerned about their welfare. Simon it seems wanted to observe Jesus and make up his own mind if Jesus was really a prophet. Being a Pharisee, he no doubt had heard much negative; but, nonetheless he wanted a firsthand look. The woman had a notoriously bad reputation and Simon was aware of that. I haven't figured out why she was at Simon's house; but, any way it is stated flatly at the outset, she was a sinner and the implication is to the extreme. It was commonly the custom of the Jews to wash their guests feet. Why Simon did not extent this ordinary courtesy is not clear. Jesus did not complain. But, this woman had approached Jesus and showed him much honor and respect. Accordingly, Jesus showed here no disrespect. It would seem that her understanding and comprehension of who Jesus really was, may have been much more accurate than Simon's appraisal. Obviously, she was penitent or Jesus would never forgiven her sins as he did. Their customs seem a little odd to me; but, Simon was watching the whole affair out of the corner of his eye. He began to get very negative vibes because he expected Jesus to reject this woman. Then he surmised that Jesus was unaware of the woman's condition and that possibly accounted for Jesus' permitting her to touch him. This caused Simon to conclude mentally that; therefore, Jesus could NOT be the Messiah, you see. But when Jesus perceived the situation; He laid it on the line with Simon. The woman was a sinner, yes. But, Simon's attitude was not all it should be either. Both were debtors, in the sense that both were sinners. Thus, Jesus' parable about the two debtors, v.41, illustrated the situation. One my have had more sins than the other; but, both, were debtors. Jesus knowing the condition of the woman's heart told the woman, "Thy faith hath saved thee." (v.50). But, did Simon have faith in Jesus? Apparently not! Have a good day.