Luke 7:18-35 (ESV)
18 tThe 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.”
Luke picks up the account of John the Baptist. John was imprisoned as a result of rebuking Herod for his adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife, Herodias. John was discouraged. He believed Jesus was the Messiah, but things weren’t panning out the way he hoped. He was sure the Scripture taught that the coming One would set up the Kingdom. What was taking so long? Didn’t Jesus know John was in prison? At the same time, reports of all that Jesus was doing got back to John. He was confused, so he sent two of his followers to Jesus to ask on his behalf. Should they be looking and waiting for someone else? Jesus responded to the disciples of John with Scripture. Quoting from Isaiah, Jesus asked them to tell John, “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.” The answer was “no.” They should not be looking for someone else. Jesus threw in an extra sentence, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” The word translated as “offended” is the Greek word skandalizo. We get our English word “scandalize” from this Greek word, and it means “to suffer a lapse of faith as a result of someone else’s behavior.” John was stumbled by the fact that Jesus hadn’t yet established his kingdom.
Jesus will set up his kingdom. Soon we will be together with him in a place so amazing it is beyond our ability to conceive. But until then, God has us here for a reason. And his plan for us will include hardship and difficulty, even times of doubt. Jesus said of John the Baptist, “Among those born of women none is greater than John.” What a compliment! And yet, even though John was so incredibly esteemed by God, he suffered greatly, even to death. Are you experiencing troubles and trials in your life? Do you ever feel like you just aren’t that important to him? Don’t let your circumstances dictate your worth before God. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are so important to him that he gave his life for you. And according to Jesus, every single Christian under the New Covenant is greater than John. Wow! May we never allow discouragement to cause us to forget how valuable we are to the Lord!