As the news spread about the miracles Jesus had done, including the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain, the disciples of John the baptist made these things known to him, while he was in prison. John sent two of them to Jesus to ask “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Obviously, the mention of “the one” refers to the Messiah. This seems strange to us, in light of the fact that before he was imprisoned, John already pointed Jesus out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
But we must remember that John the baptist was just a man, and he had his own weaknesses and trials (particularly at this time, being in prison), and he would have his own struggles with faith. We know that at the time he was “preparing the way” for Jesus he was full of the Spirit. Clearly that was the case when he made that statement as he saw Jesus approach him. But now that he was in prison, he hears of the things that Jesus has done, and perhaps like many others, he was expecting a much different Messiah – one who would be a great leader and perhaps lead Israel to their former greatness as a power – and out from under the dominance of the roman Empire.
Verse 21 says that Jesus healed many of diseases and evil spirits, and restored sight to blind people in that very hour. We can presume that to mean that the disciples John sent were witnesses to these things. When Jesus told them in verses 22-23 to go tell John about the blind, the deaf, the lame, etc., He knew that John would recognize these prophesies from Isaiah 29:18. After they left, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John. John had fulfilled the scriptures concerning what he was purposed by God to do, and Jesus pointed this out very well. Noting that some were deceived by his simple dress and his life of austerity, Jesus proclaimed in verse 27 that John was indeed nonetheless the one spoken of in Malachi 3:1, as the messenger sent to prepare the way.
One point that is easy to miss in all of this is the relationship in this passage between the expectation of the people toward the prophet and John’s own expectations about the Messiah. Jesus asked them what they expected to see when they went out in the wilderness, saying that “those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.” By the same token, Jesus came as the Messiah, doing exactly what the prophet Isaiah said He would do, but people often do not see what is important if they look the wrong way. And he continues to emphasize these points in verse 31-34, as he describes the fickleness of that generation. Also not to be missed here is the affirmation that by rejecting the baptism of John, the Pharisees and lawyers had rejected the counsel of God (verse 3).
What did Jesus mean when he said in verse 28 “yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (speaking of John)? I think this is simply a reference to the fact that he knew John would not live to be a part of the kingdom Jesus was establishing as His church. Almost certainly, John would have his place in heaven, but he would not be around to tell others of the good news of Jesus’ victory over death, and what it all means.
Finally, Jesus says that “wisdom is justified by all her children.” Those who seek wisdom through the truth will find it. The point is made in Proverbs 8:34-36, speaking of wisdom in the first person:
“Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord,
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.”
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.