SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
Passage: Luke 7:24-35
“24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to 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 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.
31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:
‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”
Memory Verse Luke 1:28a (NIV)
“I TELL YOU, AMONG THOSE BORN OF WOMEN THERE IS NO ONE GREATER THAN JOHN.”
In the previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today we looked at John’s message to Jesus through his disciples and Jesus’ response to him. We realized that John doubted who Jesus really in spite of all the prevailing evidences because of the situation he found himself in. We admonish each other on the need to avoid doubting God in our lives because of the surrounding circumstances. In this edition we want to think about what Jesus said after John’s disciples had left.
Jesus realized from the questions brought to him from John that he (John) doubted who he (Jesus) was. Jesus answer depicted his understanding of John’s thoughts. He knew very well that John should not have doubted who he was since he was the very one who baptized him. This waning in faith in the heart of a great prophet of God should have caused Jesus to chastise him in the presence of the disciples of Jesus and the people around. Yet Jesus decided to eulogize him instead. Jesus did not focus his attention on John’s weaknesses in order to slander him in the presence of his disciples. He honored John before his own disciples instead of giving his disciples any cause to see John in a negative way.
Jesus knew it was important to avoid creating negative impressions about true messengers of God because it could make people cast doubt about their messages and works. Unfortunately many ministers of our day rather look for opportunities to find something wrong with fellow ministers of God in order to destroy them. They are delighted when they hear bad news about other ministers and go to the extent of spreading the news instead of praying with them. This attitude is contrary to what Jesus practiced and is still teaching us today. Instead of rejoicing in the weaknesses of other ministers of God, we should rather mourn and pray with them, bearing in mind that we are also human and therefore fallible. This however does not mean we should condone the sins of fellow ministers and sweep them under the carpet. We should handle them with the utmost care and speak with them when we get the opportunity to do so.
It is important to understand that Jesus did not just praise John in order to cover John’s faults. Jesus genuinely praised John for who he was and what the LORD used him for. He reminded the disciples of John’s ministry at the banks of the River Jordan and how they trooped to him to be baptized. He reminded them of the great ministry of John and how powerfully the LORD used him to preach to them which moved many people to listen and be baptized by him. He reminded the people of John’s strong will which made him preach without fear or favor which was testified by his imprisonment. He spoke boldly against the sins of the people, reminded them of the impending danger ahead of them and called them to repentance for their own salvation (Matthew 3:1-10). As if that was not enough, Jesus told them that John was not an ordinary prophet, but a great prophet who came to prepare the way before the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus went further to state that John was a greater prophet than all the prophets who came before him. This is about the proximity to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus meant that even though all the other prophets prophesied about him, John was greater because he was the one who actually baptized the Messiah and ushered him into his ministry.
Jesus also mentioned John’s strong character which is manifested in his ability to rouse men’s consciences and wake up generations rotting away in self-indulgence. John did that by staying away from the luxurious life which the people of his time lived. He lived in the desert instead of the palace; wore animal skins instead of fine silken robes and ate wild honey and locust instead delicate foods. He lived a humble life and focused on his ministry. He was not negatively influenced by the circumstances surrounding him but rather helped in transforming the lives of many people, consequently preparing the way of the Lord. It can be deduced from Jesus’ speech that even his own disciples were baptized by John. If that is so, it would imply that their hearts had already been well prepared to follow Jesus even before he started his ministry. This makes John a great prophet indeed. Jesus praised a worthy servant of God where others would have chastised him for his decreased faith. True messengers of God’s people would emphasize on the strengths of other true messengers of God and not their shortfalls. Jesus has shown us the way and we should endeavor to follow him.
Jesus’ words made all the people around believe more in the ministry of John the Baptist instead of despising it. This is what we all need to do. Sadly we have come to the point where some ministers are always putting out negative and scandalous pieces of information about fellow ministers. This is done to make others see them to be better than others. All this is happening because of the unwarranted and unhealthy competition among Christian ministries and ministers. Beloved this is dangerous. We should not tow this path because it does not bring glory to God. It makes people of other faith cast doubts about us. Even though it is wrong to hide the sins of fellow servants of God, it is equally wrong to undermine the ministries of true messengers of God. May all ministers of God seek to pray for one another, especially those facing serious temptations; comfort those in distress; and encourage and honor those who are lifting high the banner of Christ throughout the world!
May the Lord Jesus Christ help us in this direction!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.