John the Baptist’s Problem Part 1

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

AND BLESSED IS HE, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT BE OFFENDED IN ME.

AND BLESSED IS HE, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT BE OFFENDED IN ME.

7-23-04

Title: John the Baptist’s Problem


Text: “AND BLESSED IS HE, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT BE OFFENDED IN ME. “ (Matthew 11:6)

Bible Reading: Matthew 11:3-6

INTRODUCTION:

I WANT TO BEGIN WITH A QUESTION. YOU DON’T NEED TO ANSWER; JUST THINK ABOUT IT. APART FROM JESUS, WHO WAS THE GREATEST MAN WHO EVER LIVED? HE’S THE MAN THAT JESUS SAID IS THE GREATEST MAN BORN OF A WOMAN. THAT WAS THE LORD’S ASSESSMENT OF HIS COUSIN, JOHN THE BAPTIST.

SEVERAL THINGS CAN BE SAID ABOUT THIS GREAT MAN:
• HE WAS SENT BY GOD TO GO BEFORE JESUS AND TO PREPARE THE WAY FOR HIM.
• HE WAS BORN TO BE A PRIEST, BUT HE PREFERRED THE ROLE OF A PROPHET.
• HE WAS AN OUTSTANDING PREACHER, AND HIS MESSAGE WAS REVIVAL.

THE RESULT OF HIS PREACHING WAS THAT HE HAD GREAT SUCCESS. THIS WAS THE MAN KNOWN AS JOHN THE BAPTIST. HE WAS A GREAT MAN OF GOD, BUT AS WE BEGIN TODAY’S MESSAGE HIS MINISTRY IS IN SHAMBLES. HIS WORLD IS REDUCED TO A PRISON CELL. HIS LIFE IS ONLY A HEART BEAT AWAY FROM HEROD’S AXE.

IT’S NO WONDER THAT JOHN BEGAN TO HAVE DOUBTS. AFTER ALL, JESUS, HAD NEVER COME OUT AND TOLD HIM PERSONALLY THAT HE WAS THE MESSIAH. THEREFORE, JOHN HAD SOME LEGITIMATE QUESTIONS:
• HAD HE BEEN MISTAKEN?
• WAS JESUS REALLY THE MESSIAH?
HE HAD TO KNOW THE ANSWER, BEFORE THE EXECUTIONER CAME TO PUT HIM TO DEATH. SO, HE SENT HIS FRIENDS TO JESUS TO ASK THE QUESTION, AND TO GET SOME STREIGHT FORWARD ANSWERS; AND GET THEM HE DID. OUR TEXT HAS IN IT BOTH THE QUESTION AND THE ANSWER. IT SAYS IN MATTHEW 11:3-6—

3 AND SAID UNTO HIM, ART THOU HE THAT SHOULD COME, OR DO WE LOOK FOR ANOTHER?
4 JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO THEM, GO AND SHEW JOHN AGAIN THOSE THINGS WHICH YE DO HEAR AND SEE:
5 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.
6 AND BLESSED IS HE, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT BE OFFENDED IN ME.

THE QUESTION THEY ASKED OUR LORD WAS, “ARE YOU THE MESSIAH?” TODAY’S MESSAGE WILL BEGIN BY LOOKING AT HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED, AND THEN WE’LL SEE HOW THE QUESTION WAS ANSWERED. IT’S IN VERSE 3 THAT WE CAN SEE HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED. BUT BEFORE WE LOOK AT THE VERSE, LET’S LOOK AT THE MAN, JOHN THE BAPTIST. IN FACT, LET’S LOOK AT HIM IN THREE WAYS.

FIRST, LET’S LOOK AT JOHN AS A PERSON

HIS BIRTH WAS SIGNIFICANT AND I BELIEVE IT WAS THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT BIRTH IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. JOHN’S FATHER WAS A PRIEST BY THE NAME OF ZACHARIAS AND HIS MOTHER WAS ELIZABETH. IN LUKE IT SAYS, “AND THEY WERE BOTH RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD…”

HOW WERE THEY RIGHTEOUS? THEY RECOGNIZED THAT THEY WERE SINNERS AND BROUGHT THE PROPER SACRIFICES. THEY LIVED LIVES OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD, AND WHEN THEY COMMITTED A SIN OR MADE A MISTAKE THEY BROUGHT THE PROPER SACRIFICE. KEEP IN MIND THAT THEY WERE STILL UNDER THE LAW AND THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM.
WERE UNDER GRACE TODAY. HOWEVER, THERE WAS TRAGEDY IN THEIR LIVES, BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T HAVE A CHILD. THEY WERE OLD AND CHILDLESS, AND IT WAS A DISGRACE FOR A HEBREW WOMAN TO BE CHILDLESS.

ONCE WHEN ZACHARIAS WAS ON DUTY IN THE TEMPLE AN ANGEL APPEARED. HE TOLD ZACHARIAS HE WOULD HAVE A SON AND THAT HE WAS TO BE A NAZARITE. THAT MEANT THAT HE COULD NEVER DRINK STRONG DRINK OR WINE. HE ALSO SAID HE WOULD BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. ZACHARIAS DIDN’T BELIEVE THE ANGEL AND AS A RESULT, HE EMERGED FROM THE TEMPLE UNABLE TO SPEAK. BUT BEFORE HE LEFT, THE ANGEL IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS GABRIEL. HE IS THE SAME ONE WHO ANNOUNCED THE BIRTH OF JESUS TO MARY.

LUKE TELLS US THAT WHEN MARY WAS IN THE SIXTH MONTH OF HER PREGNANCY, SHE VISITED HER COUSIN ELIZABETH WHO WAS ALSO PREGNANT WITH JOHN. WHEN THEY MET, SOMETHING VERY WONDERFUL HAPPENED. HERE’S HOW LUKE DESCRIBED THAT OCCASION. HE SAID, “AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT, WHEN ELIZABETH HEARD THE SALUTATION OF MARY, THE BABE LEAPED IN HER WOMB; AND ELIZABETH WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.” REMEMBER, ZACHARIAS, THE FATHER, HAD BEEN UNABLE TO SPEAK AND THAT’S HOW IT WAS FOR NINE MONTHS. BUT WHEN JOHN WAS BORN, HE WAS ABLE TO SPEAK AGAIN. JOHN WAS TO BE CALLED A PROPHET OF THE HIGHEST. HE WAS TO GO BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS. HE WAS A VERY UNUSUAL PERSON AND HE WAS PREPARED TO DO A SPECIAL TASK FOR GOD.

NEXT, LET’S LOOK AT JOHN AS A PREACHER.

• HIS MINISTRY WAS A SOLITARY MINISTRY. HE DESCRIBED HIMSELF AS A VOICE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS. HE DIDN’T HAVE A LARGE NUMBER OF FRIENDS WHO FOLLOWED HIM AND HELPED HIM.
• EVEN THOUGH HE DIDN’T HAVE MUCH HELP, HE HAD A SUCCESSFUL MINISTRY. PEOPLE CAME LONG DISTANCES TO LISTEN TO HIM. OTHERS CAME BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO SEE THE PREACHER WHO DRESSED IN CAMEL HAIR, AND ATE LOCUSTS. THE BIBLE DOESN’T RECORD THAT JOHN THE BAPTIST EVER PERFORMED A MIRACLE. BUT, HE PREACHED ABOUT REPENTANCE AND THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH, AND MANY BELIEVED AND WERE BAPTIZED BY HIM IN THE JORDAN RIVER.

FINALLY, LOOK AT JOHN AS A PRISONER

• HE WAS EXPECTING TO DIE. AT ANY MOMENT THE EXECUTIONER COULD COME TO HIS CELL AND CHOP OFF HIS HEAD. JOHN WASN’T AFRAID TO DIE, BUT HE HAD TO KNOW IF JESUS WAS THE PROMISSED SAVIOR.
• HE WAS EXPERIENCING DOUBT. THAT’S WHY HE ASKED THE QUESTION, “ART
THOU HE THAT SHOULD COME, OR DO WE LOOK
FOR ANOTHER?”

WE HAVE SEEN HOW THE QUESTION WAS ASKED, SO NEXT LET’S SEE HOW THE QUESTION WAS ANSWERED.

AFTER JOHN THE BAPTIST HAD BEEN ARRESTED AND IMPRISONED, JESUS WITHDREW FROM JERUSALEM TO THE TOWN OF CAPERNAUM, WHERE HE PICKED UP WHERE JOHN HAD LEFT OFF. JOHN HAD PREACHED A MESSAGE OF REPENTANCE. IT WAS A SIMPLE MESSAGE, MEANT TO PREPARE THE PEOPLE TO RECEIVE THEIR MESSIAH, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

WE ARE TOLD IN MATTHEW 3:1-2, WHAT THE MESSAGE WAS. IT SAYS: “IN THOSE DAYS JOHN THE BAPTIST CAME PREACHING IN THE WILDERNESS OF JUDEA, AND SAYING, ‘REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!’” JOHN MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE WAS ONLY A MESSENGER SENT BY GOD TO PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE ONE WHO WOULD FOLLOW. THE MESSAGE JESUS PREACHED SOUNDS A LOT LIKE JOHN’S MESSAGE, BUT IT WAS DIFFERENT.

MATTHEW, WHO WAS AN EYE AND EAR WITNESS TO EVERYTHING JESUS SAID AND DID, TELLS US: “FROM THAT TIME JESUS BEGAN TO PREACH AND TO SAY, ‘REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.’” (MATT. 4:17) THE MESSAGE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS CLEARLY PROCLAIMED BY JESUS CHRIST. HOWEVER, JESUS, WHO WAS THE MESSIAH TO THE JEWS, AND A SAVIOR FOR YOU AND ME IS NOT CALLING ON HIS LISTENERS TO PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM, BUT RATHER, HE ANNOUNCES THAT THE KINGDOM IS HERE. IT WAS HERE, SINCE THE KING, HIMSELF WAS HERE AND HE WAS STANDING IN FRONT OF THEM.

THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS HAD PROMISED THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL THAT THE MESSIAH WOULD COME. THEY WOULD KNOW HIM BY THE DESCRIPTION THAT ISAIAH GAVE. HE SAID: “THEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND SHALL BE OPENED, AND THE EARS OF THE DEAF SHALL BE UNSTOPPED” (IS. 35:5). THAT’S WHY WE HAVE SO MANY UNUSUAL MIRACLES INCLUDED IN CHRIST’S’ MINISTRY. INCURABLE DISEASES AND AFFLICTIONS BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING WERE CURED BY THE POWER OF HIS TOUCH AND HIS WORD, AND THE MIRACLES FULFILLED PROPHESY AND BECAME HIS CREDENTIALS.

REMEMBER, JOHN THE BAPTIST IS IN PRISON, AND HE HAS BEEN THERE FOR A WHILE NOW, BUT HE HAS BEEN KEPT INFORMED ABOUT THE MOVEMENTS OF THE LORD JESUS. JOHN’S DISCIPLES HAVE BEEN WATCHING JESUS AND REPORTING TO JOHN. JOHN IS EXPECTING THAT ANY DAY NOW, THE DOORS TO HIS PRISON WILL BE OPENED, BECAUSE HE BELIEVES JESUS IS COMING IMMEDIATELY TO THE THRONE TO ESTABLISH HIS KINGDOM. OF COURSE, WE KNOW THAT JESUS CAME FOR ANOTHER REASON. HE TOLD ZACHEAUS, “THE SON OF MAN HAS COME TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THOSE THAT ARE LOST.” BUT, IT’S A LOGICAL QUESTION THAT JOHN ASKED HIS DISCIPLES TO POSE TO JESUS: “ART THOU HE THAT SHOULD COME, OR DO WE LOOK FOR ANOTHER?”

LISTEN AS I READ THE LORD’S ANSWER AGAIN: “GO AND SHEW 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.” BY HIS ANSWER, JESUS IS SAYING, YOU BE THE JUDGE. MY CREDENTIALS ARE THE THINGS YOU SEE AND HEAR. HE MIRACLES ARE HIS CREDENTIALS, AND THEY PROVE HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS. JUST LOOK AT THE MIRACLES JESUS PERFORMED.

• HE GAVE SIGHT TO THE BLIND. SIN DARKENS OUR PERCEPTION OF HOW WE SEE THINGS. IT CAUSES US TO SEE THINGS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF SINNERS AND FROM THE LOW LEVEL OF SIN. SICKNESS AND DISEASE AND ALL AFFLICTIONS ARE THE Results OF MAN’S SIN. THE PROMISE OF GOD IS THAT NONE OF THESE TROUBLES WILL ACCOMPANY OUR SOUL WHEN IT FLIES TO HEAVEN. ISAIAH DECLARED THAT GIVING SIGHT TO THE BLIND WILL BE ONE OF THE WORKS PERFORMED BY THE MESSIAH. HE SAID, “THEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND SHALL BE OPENED” (35:1). THIS WAS OFTEN DONE BY OUR LORD JESUS WHEN HE WAS HERE UPON EARTH.

WE EVEN HAVE THE RECORD OF JESUS GIVING SIGHT TO A MAN WHO WAS BORN BLIND. THE STORY IS IN THE 9TH CHAPTER OF JOHN. WE ARE TOLD THAT JESUS ENCOUNTERED A POOR BEGGAR THAT HAD BEEN BLIND SINCE BIRTH. THIS MAN WAS A DESPERATE CASE, SO BY GIVING HIM SIGHT, JESUS WOULD SHOW THAT HE HAD THE POWER TO RELIEVE SUFFERING THAT NO ONE ELSE CAN.

THIS IS HOW JOHN DESCRIBED WHAT HAPPENED WHEN JESUS MET THIS BLIND MAN. “WHEN HE HAD SAID THESE THINGS, HE SPAT ON THE GROUND AND MADE CLAY WITH THE SALIVA; AND HE ANOINTED THE EYES OF THE BLIND MAN WITH THE CLAY. AND HE SAID TO HIM, “GO, WASH IN THE POOL OF SILOAM” (WHICH IS TRANSLATED, SENT). SO HE WENT AND WASHED, AND CAME BACK SEEING” (VS. 6-7). CHRIST HAD TO TOUCH THE BLIND MAN, AND THE BLIND MAN HAD TO OBEY CHRIST.

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