John T. Willis

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Disciples of John the Baptist converse with Jesus--Luke 7:18-35

After relating two accounts in which Jesus performed miracles in Luke 7:1-17, Luke gives an account of two disciples of John the Baptist who come to Jesus who seek significant questions. This appears in Luke 7:18-35, and naturally falls into three paragraphs.

I. John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to Jesus to know whether Jesus is the one to come or to wait for another person. Luke 7:18-23.
a. As the background of this section of Luke, remember that Luke 3:20 states that John the Baptist was in prison. The disciples of John the Baptist reported all the things described in Luke 7:1-17 to John. John summoned two of his disciples probably as evidence of two witnesses proclaimed in Deuteronomy 19:15 and sent them to Jesus to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" The two disciples came to Jesus and asked John's question. John's question suggest John's doubt, hesitation, or surprise that Jesus did not seem to be the kind of messiah John expected. 7:18-20.
b. Jesus' response is that he is indeed the one who is to come. The proof is that he had just cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. Jesus tells the two disciples of John to go and tell John what they had SEEN and HEARD: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised (a reflection of Isaiah 26:19), the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at Jesus. This is an echo of Isaiah 61:1; cf. Luke 4:18. 7:21-23.

II. After the two messengers of John the Baptist leave, Jesus tells the crowd the kind of person John the Baptist is. Luke 7:24-30.
a. Luke states that the messengers of John the Baptist left, and Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. 7:24a-b.
b. Jesus asks the crowds three questions about John the Baptist. 7:24c-27.
1. Did you look at John the Baptist as a reed shaken by the wind? 7:24c-d. Since John the Baptist was in prison, the crowds might assume John was very ordinary, not worth the trip his two disciples made to converse with Jesus, frail and fickle, standing in bold contrast to Herod in Luke 3:19.
2. Was John the Baptist dressed in soft robes? Such people put on find clothing and live in luxury like people in royal palaces. People like this do not usually live in the desert like John did. 7:25.
3. Was John the Baptist a prophet? Jesus says John is more than a prophet, the one announced in Malachi 3:1, since John is the precursor of Jesus the true Messiah. 7:26.
c. Jesus declares positively that John is the greatest among human beings, and yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist. One's natural status is much different from one's spiritual status. In the eyes of God, the most important thing is the commitment of an individual to God. 7:28.
d. All the people who heard John's preaching about people treating other people justly and righteously accepted God by being baptized by John's baptism, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose by refusing to be baptized by John. 7:29-30.

III. Jesus gives a parable about how people receive John the Baptist and Jesus. Luke 7:31-35.
a. Essentially, Jesus proclaims that "the people of this generation" rejected both John the Baptist and Jesus.
1. Jesus compares this generation with John the Baptist as a hermit who lived isolated for most people. 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 wailed, and you did not weep.
John the Baptist ate no bread and drank no wine, and the crowds said, "He has a demon." 7:31-33.
2. Jesus compares this generation with Jesus as a sociable party person. Jesus frequently associated with tax collectors and sinners. He ate and drank with the commong people. The crowds thought of him as a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. 7:34.
b. It does not matter what a person does. People who are critical are going to find a way to condemn and find fault and denounce severely other people. WISDOM personified is vindicated by all her children, here John and Jesus and his disciples. 7:35.

Share YOUR expectations and realizations and concepts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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