Luke 7:18-35

Read it

It seems that John, or at least some of his followers, are uncertain that Jesus is the Messiah. Why is this? They know (v18) that he was performing miracles, why wasn’t that enough. I reckon that the clue comes in chapter 3 (not my wisdom, I’ve been using StS!) where in verse 16 John says one ‘more powerful’ than him would come after. Where was this power in Jesus? He was curing people, but miracles had been performed by prophets before him. His teaching was amazing, but he was not the first to have wisdom. Of course with hindsight we know that Jesus power wasn’t at the head of an army, but hanging on a cross. Interesting throne, no? Still, there is a challenge to me not to put God into the box that I’d like him to sit in. Jesus’ answer is basically – look at what I’m doing, that should speak for itself. Now I have the Bible to tell me what God is like, I shouldn’t make up my own image but prayerfully read what it says about him. It can be far to easy to expect God to act in the way I want.

Once the messengers have left (so Jesus can’t be accused of just buttering John up) Jesus begins to praise John. But in doing it, he also reinforces his own claims to be the promised one. If John is the one who is to go before God (the full context is in Malachi 3) then Jesus to whom John pointed must surely be God. “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” John will be in heaven, I believe, as he saw the need for repentance and the fact that man needs a saviour. But he died in prison before he could see how it would work. How blessed are we, even the least of us, to be living after the cross so we know that we are saved by faith alone. Thanks be to God!

I don’t think that verse 30 is saying anyone not baptised by John is in trouble, but remember what John’s baptism was all about – repentance. Those that received it were aware of their sinful state and looking for something to do about it. Those that would not were those that thought they were fine, so why would they listen to Jesus. A challenge to never forget that we can only come by repentance and grace.

I doubt the learned lawyers would have appreciated being likened to children, or told that they were churlishly and inconsistantly finding any bone to pick with people they didn’t like (John and Jesus). But they were called to mourn for their sin by John, and they were called to dance for joy by Jesus. And they refused.

Heavenly Father, I praise you that one day you will be proved right. Every knee will bow, everyone – whether being judged or rewarded – will acknowledge that you are right. You will be glorified. Please help me to accept you as you are, not force you into my preconceptions, and help me to always come through grace. Amen.


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