Week 48 | Section 57 in the Harmony of the Gospels

What happens when our faith waivers? What should be done? What should be done? What is the consequence of such tragedy? These are the questions we explore in our study today. Your small group may like to explore other topics such as the concept of leadership and allegiance, the value of effort, obedience, and grace or perhaps what to do in the face of naysayers and critics.

Section 57 | John the Baptist’s Relationship to the Kingdom

Matthew 11:2-19
2 Now when John heard in the prison1 the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples2 3 and said to him, “Are you he who comes, or should we look for another?”3

 

 

4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 Blessed is he who finds no occasion for stumbling in me.” 7 As these went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?4 A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written,

‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.5 14 If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come.6 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

 

 

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call to their companions 17 and say,

‘We played the flute for you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned for you, and you didn’t lament.’7

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”

Luke 7:18-35
18 The disciples of John told him about all these things. 19 John, calling to himself two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for another?” 20 When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptizer has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who comes, or should we look for another?’ ” 21 In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits; and to many who were blind he gave sight. 22 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John the things which you have seen and heard: that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 23 Blessed is he who finds no occasion for stumbling in me.”8  24 When John’s messengers had departed, he began to tell the multitudes about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are gorgeously dressed, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much 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 “For I tell you, among those who are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptizer, yet he who is least in God’s Kingdom is greater than he.”

 

 

29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they declared God to be just, having been baptized with John’s baptism. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God, not being baptized by him themselves. 31 “To what then should I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children who sit in the marketplace, and call to one another, saying,

‘We piped to you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned, and you didn’t weep.’

33 For John the Baptizer came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard; a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Wisdom is justified by all her children.”


Group Dialog:

  1. Have you ever felt like Elijah or John – confused about God’s plans, timing, and your role.
  2. Have you felt judgement when you doubt? What strength and lesson then can you find in today’s reading?
  3. In what circumstances have you had to reorient your thinking? What lessons did you learn?
  4. How has John’s message of repentance and preparation, and the fulfillment of the Messiah’s acts transformed your life?
  5. Discuss the kairos and chronos of God and your journey of faith.

Notes:

  1. John’s death is celebrated on Aug 29, 28AD. Seen in Section 71b in Phase 5b, and this even about 1-1/2 years after Jesus’ Baptism.
  2. John’s disciples were still allegiant to him, though they may have also heard and begun to follow Jesus – we simply don’t know.
  3. John has already attested to the identity of Jesus as the Lamb of God. But John is wrestling with the timing and means of God. Like a man unworthy of untying the sandals of his master, John needs help overcoming his doubts and lack of understanding. Like Elijah 1Kings 19 who there in the cave was confused by God’s actions, their own role and responsibility in the greater purposes of God.
  4. This attests that many of John’s disciples did in fact begin following Jesus.
  5. John is the last of the Old Testament Prophets. Indeed he was prophet who broke a silence of nearly 400 years – and then came the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
  6. CR Mal 4:5, Mt 17:10–13, Mk 9:11–13, Lk 1:17, and Jn 1:21.
  7. God has tried to raise Israel into faith and God’s original intent like a child, and also by mourning through the prophets, but still Israel is not hearing to the Gospel and not returning to the Lord.
  8. Jesus instructs John’s disciples to recount what Jesus is doing – things where were promised of the one who is the Messiah. In essence Jesus is shifting John’s focus from himself and his perception of what timing and purpose of God to the acts of Jesus and his perfect timing.