Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Matthew - John the Baptist

In today's study from Matthew 11:12-19, we take a look at the ministry of John the Baptist.

Prophet & Messenger
vv.9-11 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.  (10)  For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  (11)  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

They went out to hear a prophet of God. Jesus goes on to say that he was more than just a prophet. He was the “messenger” that was foretold at the very close of the Old Testament Scriptures in Malachi 3:1 where it says,  “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

I also find it interesting that this verse is quoted of John the Baptist at least three times in the New Testament. However, never is the second part quoted (Mal. 3:1b). Why? - Because they were not seeking the Lord and rejected him so that he could not “come into his temple.” John the Baptist could have ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven had they responded appropriately. Instead, they killed the messenger and the King.

Final thought, I am amazed to see that Jesus said all of these great things about John just after he doubted him. 2 Tim 2:11-13 “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

As a matter of fact, who went on to say of John that “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”, of course, referring to John. Why is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven greater than John the Baptist? He will be greater because he will know that he knows (unlike John) that the Lord Jesus is indeed to Messiah and there is no need to look for another! There will be no doubts as to who Jesus is because he will be ruling right before their eyes. Unfortunately, John did not get to see that.

Suffering Violence
v.12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

This could mean a couple of things. It could mean that the kingdom of heaven is being attacked by violent men. They were going to kill John the Baptist, they had already killed thousands of babies at the command of Herod in attempt to kill our Lord, eventually, they did kill Him, his apostles, and his followers for centuries to come. So, it could be that this verse is speaking of the violence that would abound as the kingdom emerged. Or, it could mean that the kingdom of heaven can only be taken by those who aggressively, enthusiastically press in and lay hold of it. Both of these meanings are appropriate.

Last Old Testament Prophet
v.13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

This verse is telling us that John marked the end of the Old Testament. Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” So, the Old Testament did not end with Malachi, but with John.

John Rejected
vv.14-15 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.  (15)   He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Again, if they had accepted John’s preaching of the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus would have fulfilled the prophecy concerning the necessity of Elijah to come before the Lord sets up his throne in the earth. John’s mission was to minister in the capacity of Elijah as the transitional figure that would take the Jews from the Old Testament to their Messiah. Luk 1:17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Mat 17:10-13 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"  11  Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.  12  But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands."  13  Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

But, since they didn’t accept the witness of John, Elijah must now come. Guess what? He will come in the book of Revelation, and guess what, they will reject him as well (Revelation 11:1-10)

Of course, God in His omniscience knew that John would be rejected. Maybe John knew as well. John 1:21 “And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." Could he have known?

Determined Rejection
vv.16-19 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,  (17)  And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.  (18)  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.  (19)  The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

He is simply saying that they were determined to reject him regardless. He is saying that they are looking for any excuse. This reminds me of people who come to church and don’t want to be there.  So, they make excuses.  “the music’s too loud, too soft, the pastor’s too loud, too soft, too long, too mean, too direct, etc. This reminds me of a song written by the Kingsmen Quartet many years ago called, “Excuses”.
Excuses, excuses, you'll hear them every day.
And the Devil he'll supply them if the church you stay away.
When people come to know the Lord, the Devil always loses
So to keep them folks away from church, he offers them excuses.
In the summer it's too hot. And, in the winter, it's too cold.
In the springtime when the weather's just right, you find someplace else to go. Well, it's up to the mountains or down to the beach or to visit some old friend. Or, to just stay home and kinda relax and hope that some of the kinfolks will start dropping in.

Well, the church benches are too hard. And, that choir sings way too loud. Boy, you know how nervous you get when you're sitting in a great big crowd. The doctor told you, "Now, you better watch them crowds. They'll set you back." But, you go to that old ball game because you say "it helps you to relax." Well, a headache Sunday morning and a backache Sunday night. But by worktime Monday morning, you're feeling quite alright. While one of the children has a cold, "Pneumonia, do you suppose?" Why the whole family had to stay home, just to blow that poor kid's nose.

Excuses, excuses, you'll hear them every day.
And the Devil he'll supply them if the church you stay away.
When people come to know the Lord, the Devil always loses
So to keep them folks away from church, he offers them excuses.
Well, the preacher he's too young. And, maybe he's too old. The sermons they're not hard enough. And, maybe they're too bold. His voice is much too quiet-like. Sometimes he gets too loud. He needs to have more dignity. Or, else he's way too proud.

Well, the sermons they're too long. And, maybe they're too short.
He ought to preach the word with dignity instead of "stomp and snort." Well, that preacher we've got must be "the world's most stuck up man." Well, one of the lady's told me the other day, "Well, he didn't even shake my hand."

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