September 29 - Luke 7:18-35

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Luke 7:18-35 – Jesus and John the Baptist

Luke had introduced John the Baptist and in doing so had created a bridge between the old and the new, the age of Israel and the age of Jesus Christ and his followers. Luke then began telling the story of the Messiah, but there were many who wondered if Jesus was who they were waiting for. John’s question to Jesus “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:19) is a question that was being asked all throughout the region. Up until this point, John’s ministry had been ahead of Jesus. He came first to prepare the nation of Israel by preaching repentance and baptizing people as they turned away from their sins. He was to make the path level for the coming of the Messiah.

At this point, though, John the Baptist turns back to Jesus rather than continuing to forge ahead. It is time to clarify for those who followed John who the most important person was in the drama.

In Luke 7:21, we see that Jesus had been actively performing miracles and it was based on those activities that he sends John’s disciples back with news. He is the fulfillment of prophecy. He is the Messiah.

John’s followers left and Jesus turned to the crowd. What was it they expected of John when they first saw him? A weak person, swaying with the times, afraid to stand forth with his beliefs? Maybe a wealthy person, dressed in finery. But, no. They went out to the wilderness to see a prophet and they found him. He was called by God, the prophet who would usher in the age of salvation, the forerunner of the Messiah.

We find a bit of a riddle in Luke 7:28. “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.”

Jesus is telling us that John is the greatest of all those who are members of the nation of Israel. He is the last of them. From this point forward, all who believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation are members of the kingdom of God and this is why Jesus came.

He clearly divides Israel at this point. There are those who had been baptized by John and when they heard Jesus words, acknowledged that “God’s way was right” (Luke 7:29). It didn't matter who they were, even the tax collectors were part of this group. Then, there were those who rejected God and had refused to be baptized by John. They were unrepentant and clung to the old ways, no matter what. John’s message was meant to bring repentance and faith and it pointed to Jesus. Division among the people began separating them, one from another.

They didn't accept John because he was an ascetic – he must be possessed by a demon. They didn't accept Jesus – the Son of Man because he was accused of gluttony since he ate and drank with sinners. But those who are wise will recognize God at work in both men and will have faith in Him.