Jesus and John the Baptist


A sermon delivered on October 20, 1996 at Marbury Church of God

Text: Luke 7:17-35

  • The evidence of Jesus’ authenticity was his healing ministry.
  • Jesus reassured John’s faith by pointing out the effects of His ministry.
  • Of others Jesus had said, “you will know them by their fruits.” He applies no less a standard to himself.

Contrast between style approach of these two men:

John the Baptist

Jesus

Lived in the wilderness Lived in towns
Wore camel’s hair Wore normal clothing
Drank no wine Turned water into wine
Taught his disciples to fast Took his disciples to dinner parties
Ate strange foods Ate whatever was served
Did no miracles Did many miracles
Preached in one place only Went from town to town
Preached judgment and repentance Preached repentance and forgiveness
Warned of wrath to come Promised eternal life

How can two such different men and ministries be serving the same God? Yet that is what this passage teaches us. Though different in so many ways, and even though some of John’s disciples left him to follow Jesus, we never hear of one criticizing the other. In fact, Jesus makes it clear that both were bringing the same message to “this generation”.

  • Reaction of the crowds, and of the Pharisees and lawyers, to Jesus’ words was similar to that of John’s ministry, despite all the differences. Why?

It is the word of God that changes hearts, that brings the honest sinner to repentance, that effects the benefits of forgiveness in their lives. The style of the messenger can be harsh or kind, spectacular or understated, flamboyant or soft-spoken, but until we hear God speak to us personally, we will be unmoved. Those who saw their need for repentance heard John’s word of judgment and responded; likewise they were ready to hear Jesus’ words of grace. But those religious leaders and Bible teachers who “rejected God’s purpose for themselves” rejected the message both of judgment and of mercy

  • Do not honor the messenger, or the style of delivery, more than the message itself!

God will find ways to speak to you, including ways you do not expect. John Newton wrote, “’twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” Each of us, at whatever point we are in life, may need to hear a different bit of God’s voice – and God will provide that to us. But as John the Baptist said, “He must increase, and I must decrease,” so the voice of joy and mercy and eternal life must increase over the voice of woe and judgment and wrath. He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John, though John is greatest among the prophets. But both are agents of God’s grace.

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