Messengers from John the Baptist
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
Observations and Reflections
Hearing of all that Jesus was doing and confirming that He is indeed the one that John was preaching about, must have been of great encouragement to Him. The purpose of John’s life was to be God’s messenger in proclaiming the good news and telling the world of the coming of Jesus Christ, the true Savior of this world.
John was handpicked and purposefully chosen to do God’s work. We touched on this during the previous chapters of when he had not yet been born, and we see how God’s plan had come full circle and now Jesus Christ was doing the work that John had preached about. There was no discrepancy in what John had preached. All of what he had foretold was happening right before their very eyes.
Jesus also uses this opportunity to reaffirm that John was indeed His messenger. There had been many prophets before that who had predicted the coming of Christ but none had lived to see the day in which it would actually take place. John’s role was unique in that he had the privilege of hearing about Jesus Christ’s work coming to light.
There is also the similarities being made about how just like Jesus, John reached out to the sinners and there were those such as the tax collectors that had repented, were baptized and had come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. They were seeing who this man was right before them! In the same way, we see how John attempted to reach out to those who were in religious authority, such as the Pharisees and even with Jesus Christ standing before them, they still rejected the truth.
Miracles had been done, the gospel had been preached, Jesus acted in a type of love and compassion that the world had never seen and yet there were those who did not accept who He was and the message He brought. This world is filled with those who are skeptical and quick to dismiss the Gospel because it speaks to their sin and the temporary pleasures that they hold dear. It speaks to a God who loves unconditionally and a God who says there is nothing that we humanly can do to earn His Grace. Our human actions cannot win over God because we are flawed and filled with sin. The human world likes to think that they are in control of their own lives “fate and destiny”. It goes against living life for your own pleasures and thinking because you worked hard enough, you are deserving of blessings.
The Gospel preaches that we are not deserving of any kind of Grace or blessing and yet God freely hands it to us because He loves us and wants us to enter into an eternal relationship with Him that is filled with true hope, happiness, satisfaction and peace. The world can be crashing around us and yet the Gospel that John started to preach and Jesus finished preaching gives us a firm foundation to stand on. Let us have a heart like John’s that is ready to preach to those who are around us and let us pray that our hearts do not grow hardened to the message of the Gospel and pray for those who are called to be God’s messengers.
[Featured image from the Baptistery of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni), Florence]