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LUKE 7:18-23

JOHN THE BAPTIST, AT A DISCOURAGING MOMENT!

 A Preacher in his Study

 

LESSON 1:

Was he discouraged, or not?

I'm thinking of John the Baptist.

Our Text will be taken from Luke 7:18-23. "And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

Some of the Bible scholars and commentators say "No." John was not doubting or questioning Jesus at all. But that's not what the Text says!

Listen to me today.

Anyone can become discouraged.

Anyone can doubt.

Great men and women have done so in years past, Christians. And great ones will likely do so in the future.

Jeremiah did.

Jonah did.

David did.

Abraham even had lapses of faith.

I really think every Believer who has ever lived, at one time or another, has doubted or wondered or grown weak in his or her commitment to the Lord.

That is with One Exception!

I think Jesus never did so, never once, not for a single second, doubted His Father in Heaven!

Isaiah as much as said so. Writing prophetically of the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus, the Prophet proclaims: "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law." Isaiah 42:4

What an Example!

What a Saviour!

What a Jesus!

If you're reading here today with doubts or a discouraged heart, I merely remind you of him! If you're saved, He lives within you through his Holy Spirit. And He can never fail or be discouraged, again quoting Isaiah!

Draw on His Power today!

Lean on His Strength!

Maybe you can then pull away from that weak spirit that's troubling you. Jesus, the Encourager!

Holy Spirit, the Comforter!

Wow!

                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Surely this is part of what Paul had in mind when he wrote the following words. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Yes, it's true. Both for the Apostle and for us Christians today.

 

 

LESSON 2:

He was in prison, John the Baptist. Here's why. "For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." Mark 6:17-18

There the great preacher spend time, how much we do not know, not specifically.

But as he was incarcerated, not preaching any longer, not to the crowds anyway, John was rather inactive.

He could not do much, but he still heard things.

Today's Text amplifies the point. "And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things." Luke 7:18, things about Jesus.

John was by nature a hard man, a strict preacher. Lacking a vibrant personality apparently, the man was all business. Here's a sample of his preaching. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. And when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." Matthew 3:1-8

John was a harsh man.

But when He heard about Jesus, the Son of God, and His recent teaching and preaching, "And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things," John wondered!

Is Jesus really the Messiah?

The Messiah was to rebuke sin, wasn't He?

But this Jesus was instead, mostly anyway, just helping people!

Healing the sick!

Touching and curing lepers!

Bringing sight to the blind!

Even on occasion raising the dead!

Acts 10:38 has our Lord "going about doing good." Sounds very kind, doesn't He?

Hasn't Jesus "attacked" any hypocrites lately? So John might have thought. Is He the Real Redeemer of Israel?

Truth be told, Jesus did both, beautifully. He exposed and condemned sin, and still loved sinners with all His heart.

These two traits, separated by miles psychologically, are seldom found in one person.

But in Jesus everything is perfect, balanced and proper.

Don't judge or belittle someone because they are not just like you! If they love God and obey His Word, give them room to be themselves.

Some are more strict.

Some are more kind.

Jesus is Lord of them both.

Paul in Ephesians 4:2 teaches us to "forbear each other in love." That means "put up" with each other. "Tolerate" each other in the Lord. "Live together" in harmony as led by the Holy Spirit! The verb is "anecho" in Greek.

John the Baptist may have missed this truth. He was not sinless, you know. And his oversight may have led to his discouragement and frustration!

Lord, help us to love each other in the Lord.

                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:

The reason we believe John the Baptist may have been discouraged in Luke 7:19 is obvious. He seems to have even been "shaken" in some of his core beliefs.

Granted, this great man of God is in prison. Never to taste freedom again, really. Herod will execute John within a short time.

Then John asked his now well known question.

"And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?"

The Matthew parallel to this event says about the same thing. "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Matthew 11:2-3

This query is not John's Disciples' idea! It was John who initiated this fact-finding mission.

"Jesus, are you the One? The Messiah? The Christ? Or do we start looking for someone else?" These apparently are John's thoughts.

But what a minute!

This is the John, John the Baptist, who seemed to know Jesus as a baby! As an unborn baby! This is the little fellow who leaped in his mother's womb when Mary the Virgin announced the coming of our Lord, news of his Virgin Birth! Luke 1:41 provides the details. "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost."

Then later, as a young man already preaching, John proclaimed one day as he saw Jesus approaching the Jordan River, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29, the Baptist clearly then knew Who Jesus was!

And when John baptized Jesus, did he not see that Dove? "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan and straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Mark 1:9-11

John had no doubts back then!

But now he's in jail.

He's not preaching, his life calling.

He has nothing but time on his hands.

And, apparently it was clear, only a little time at best.

He will be killed by a vengeful Herod.

So again I say, carefully but seriously, John got discouraged.

"Jesus, art thou He that should come? or look we for another?" What a cheap question, from such a spiritually wealthy man!

But lest we judge the Prophet, one of the greatest who ever lived, let's examine our own lives.

Who of us has not had lapses in faith?

Moments of weakness?

Times when we lived and believed way below our level of knowledge about Jesus and His Word!

Jeremiah once accused God of being a liar!

Elijah became so crestfallen that he was suicidal!

Jonah outright grumbled and complained to God, face to face!

Abraham distrusted God in a time of famine.

Peter denied the Lord.

Thomas nearly lost his faith totally.

Discouragement will come.

It happens to nearly every, probably no exceptions really, Christian.

Including John the Baptist.

Here's the good thing, almost for sure. John the Baptist was only temporarily discouraged.

Soon he will be slain, for preaching the Word of God. And he dies triumphantly! With his great faith intact! Not doubting Jesus or His Identity then!

Yes, spiritual weariness is bad.

But if it's temporary, it's human!

So Paul can close our meditation today, a lot better than I ever could. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9

Thank the Lord for John the Baptist, both in his strengths and his weaknesses!

Amen!

                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:

The Disciples of John did exactly what he commanded. They found Jesus and posed the question their Master had asked.

"When the men, John's Disciples, were come unto Jesus, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?" Luke 7:20

Soon we shall discuss the answer Jesus gave. We've already considered the reason John longed to have this information, this certainty.

Today we'll just study the character trait of obedience. Doing what the one I'm called to serve has asked, meeting his or her needs.

Here's Luke account again. "And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?"

Matthew has it this way. "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"

In either rendering of this event the men, John's men, did right.

They honored and obeyed and followed their leader's wishes!

That's the point today!

Obedience!

Jesus said this, proving the importance He placed on doing what we're asked. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15

Do you love your Master?

Do you love your Lord?

Do you love your Saviour?

If so, let's be busy following His Will for our lives.

                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:

The Lord was busy, always.

One day, a typical day I think, Jesus was found helping others. This was the very time of year when John the Baptist sent a delegation to Christ to ascertain just Who He was!

"And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight." Luke 7:21

As these men from John arrived, this is what they observed! "He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight."

This is what I call a summary statement.

Other such descriptive verses exist that encapsulate our Lord's Work on earth. Several do.

Here's one. "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God." Mark 1:14, Jesus came preaching! And what a Preacher He was, the greatest Who ever lived!

Here's another. "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good." Acts 10:38, always busy bringing blessings!

And a third now. The most determined Man Who ever touched earth, Jesus was driven by a Cause, the redemption of lost humanity. "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour." John 12:27

Even a fourth exists, maybe the most astounding of them all! "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." John 8:29, Jesus never failed to glorify His Father in Heaven, not once.

Summary statements, all of them are.

Still one  more for today, this one is negative though. "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Matthew 23:13, which continues with Jesus' most scorching Sermon on record. He opposed false religion!

What a balanced Person was our Lord, how very Perfect. Multi-faceted in His Personality!

But back to today's summary verse. "And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight."

Jesus, God's Darling!

Jesus, of Whom His Own Father said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17

John the Baptist was in jail when our Text was written. But Jesus still, even when John could do so very little, continued His day by day Ministry.

That's the Lord!

And one day He, that busy Man Who was God, came to me and saved my lost soul!

I praise His Name.

Are you saved?

                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:

John the Baptist knew the Old Testament. Such was the only "Bible" he had ever seen, a scroll from the Temple.

And this little New Testament Prophet seems to have especially known the Book of Isaiah. In fact, Isaiah previews John and his Ministry! "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." Isaiah 40:3-5

John also was, undoubtedly so, familiar with Isaiah's multifaceted descriptions of the coming Messiah. The Son of God Who would defeat Evil and set up an earthly Kingdom, King of the Jews in fact!

Isaiah passages such as this very "full" one. "Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes ...." Isaiah 42:1-7

This is Messiah, all right!

But John the Baptist, who once was so sure of Jesus' Identity, has now wavered some it seems. He just wanted to know of our Lord, "Art thou He that should come? or look we for another?" Luke 7:19

Now today let's notice what Jesus said, how Christ responded to this dubious but faithful Prophet!

Keep in mind what Isaiah 42 just prophesied about the coming One, God's Anointed, especially the part about His "opening blind eyes!"

Jesus to John the Baptist, via this rough man's disciples: "Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see ...." Luke 7:22, only that much of the verse today, though the list continues.

"John, blind men and women are seeing! Through God's Power invested in Me," Jesus means exactly this!

And Jesus did heal blind people!

To help them, no doubt.

To bring them to salvation, too.

To glorify the Father in Heaven as well.

And one more reason. To prove to the world that Jesus is the One! The Coming Son of God! The Messiah! The Saviour of the world!

"Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see ...."

Yes!

Using the Word of God, the ancient Old Testament, to confirm Jesus and His glorious Ministry!

Jesus healed six blind folks I think, best I can count.

In at least five different settings.

And literally there's no telling how many more. Because ... "There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."

Lots more blind people, again I say!

Yes, He was, still is, the Son of God! Always will be too! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the Unique God man, 100% God and 100% man, come to earth!

Two blind men at once in Matthew 9:27-31.

A blind man in Bethsaida, Mark 8:22-26.

A man born blind in John 9:1-41.

A blind person who was also could not speak, Matthew 12:22 and Luke 11:14.

And the man named Bartimaeus, blind and begging and boisterous, but soon well, according to Mark 10:46-52.

Yes Jesus, we believe!

John the Baptist got the message too! "Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see ...."

Thank you, Lord, for the many witnesses to your Personhood and Deity!

Today truly humanity is without excuse!

"Thou art the Christ the Son of God!"

                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

John the Baptist is the man who has claimed our attention the past few days. He's the center of our Text, Luke 7:18-23.

The Evangelist seems to be going through a time of doubting. Uncharacteristically so of him!

John to Jesus, "Art thou He that should come? or look we for another?" Mercy, Luke 7:19.

Jesus bases His answer on Isaiah 42:3-5. There specifically it is promised that the Messiah, God's Son, when He came, would "Bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."

This specific prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus' Life, in the most minute detail!

Jesus to John: "Then Jesus answering said unto John's disciples, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that ... the lame walk." Luke 7:22

In other words, "I am doing exactly what the coming One is said to do! What more proof do you need, John?"

Yes, Jesus healed lame people too!

In Matthew 9:1-8 and Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:18-26, parallel accounts of the same paralyzed man's healing, Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 42:5, instantly!

Again in John 5:5-17 as well!

And the woman in Luke 13:10-13 was nearly that, lame, and had been for eighteen years! Until Jesus came!

Jesus is God's Son.

Not just because of what he said.

But because of what he did too!

Fulfilling every bit of Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah!

Including making lame people walk!

John, Jesus knows you're in prison. And discouraged. He remembers how weak we all are too.

So without rebuke or unkindness He just sends you a word of encouragement. A word of certitude. A word of reassurance!

Lame men and women are walking!

Truth be told, we all were once spiritually lame!

Until Jesus came!

Praise His Name!

                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:

Jesus was a worker of miracles!

His power was one witness to His Deity, to His being God.

One of the things, amazing things, Jesus did involved the curing of the dreaded disease of leprosy.

Our Lord once, in response to John the Baptist's question, categorized His Ministry, His helping other people, this way. Letís notice.

John first: "And calling two of his disciples John sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? Or look we for another?" Luke 7:19

Jesus next: "Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." Luke 7:22

Today we consider the clause "the lepers are cleansed." Something about this seems to "hint" at Isaiah's great prophecy about the coming Messiah!

Isaiah now: "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another." Isaiah 42:6-8

This may intertwine with "bringing prisoners from the prison house." Certainly leprosy is a disease that incarcerates a person, separates him or her from all social contact.

And leprosy in Scripture is often a picture or type of sin. Therefore Jesus being the Healer of such a dreaded malady is a Picture of the Saviour of mankind!

Either way, Jesus thought His work as a Healer of leprosy was a substantial sign of His authenticity!

"Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how the lepers are cleansed ...." Luke 7:22 in part, once again.

The Lord healed lepers a number of times too. For example, in Matthew 8:1-3 and Mark 1:40-42 an account is given. Itís recorded twice for emphasis, no doubt.

But perhaps to top them all, Luke 17:11-19 tells of ten different lepers simultaneously being made well!

Incurables, made whole!

Pictures of sinners, saved by God's Grace!

If Jesus did what he claimed here, and He did according to God's Word ... He has offered ample Proof to John the Baptist and everyone else who is sincerely wondering!

Proof that our Lord is the Son of God!

That He is the Messiah!

That He is the Saviour of the world!

To which we Believers say "Amen!"

                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9:

Jesus in His earthly ministry worked miracles in a number of different categories. One of those involved healing deaf people.

I thought it would be interesting to study one of them. At least to try to do so. They almost for sure physically picture what happens to us spiritually when we are born again!

The event the New Testament preserves for us is located at Mark 7:31-37. Let's read it. "And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it. And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak." Mark 7:31-37

Being both deaf and unable to speak clearly are often associated. If one cannot hear he or she likely cannot talk either, one ability being determined by the other.

This afflicted man from Galilee had both problems, until He met Jesus!

And if we take this account at face value, which we Bible believers do, Jesus promptly and effortlessly healed the man of both situations.

The deaf hear!

That's one of those "signs" Jesus wanted John the Baptist to notice! "Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." Luke 7:22

I capitalized the deaf, that clause, for emphasis.

"John, deaf men know Who I am!"

"Now you should know too!"

All of us were deaf to the powerful Word of God, until the Holy Spirit began to warm our hearts and create interest down within!

Then we began to hear things spiritual!

Faintly at first, no doubt.

Then more loudly.

Then clearly.

John 5:24, Jesus' clearest statement on "How To Be Saved," makes such "hearing" ultra-important! "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."

Thank God, He still heals the deaf!

Every time a sinner gets saved.

Miracles, with spiritual implications.

                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:

Jesus may be listing His miracles from easier to harder! Or is there any such thing as an "easy" miracle? I think that if a Person is God the Son, no miracle would be hard! And Jesus was, still is, the very Son of God!

All this centers on an answer the Lord sent back to John the Baptist, at a time when he had apparently become discouraged.

"And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? Or look we for another?" Luke 7:19

Jesus' response to John's disciples: "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." Luke 7:22

The clause we're reached today is "The dead are raised." Pretty difficult task, if one is human!

Of course Jesus is human, 100% so, but is also Divine, 100% God as well! He is the God-Man, perfect in all dimensions!

Jesus raised people from the dead!

Three times such a feat is recorded in the New Testament.

Once with a young man, the only son of his widowed Mother.

Then a young lady, twelve years old.

Then Jesus' friend, Lazarus. And he had been dead for days when the miracle occurred!

Here they are in detail, in the order I listed above. Just read or scan them for the sake of familiarity.

Luke 7:11-17, the young man. This is recorded only by Luke, and immediately prior to our current "John the Baptist" Text! "And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about." I'd like to say that I believe what Luke just told us, every word!

Then the most popular one, the little girl. I say that because three Gospel writers relate the event. It's in Matthew 9, Mark 6 and Luke 8, wow! Let's allow Mark to tell us today. "And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, and besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him." Then came a delay, Jesus was slowed by another need. Soon He's on the way to Jairus' house again. But here's an interruption! "While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment."

Lastly, there's Lazarus, recorded only in John chapter 11. It's too long to reprint here. But this is the crux of it. "He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."

Yes, Jesus raised the dead!

These three events alone should make the whole world notice!

More than notice, believe!

To be absolutely sure, that Jesus is Who He claims to be, the darling Son of the living God!

He is!

                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11:

Jesus is answering John the Baptist, who well may have been discouraged. He was in prison anyway, his last days of life on earth.

John wanted to know if Jesus was the Real One! The Messiah? The Son of God? Or should men start looking for another Redeemer?

Part of our Lord's complicated, manifold perhaps is a better word, answer included these words, "To the poor the Gospel is preached." Luke 7:22

And Jesus listed this feat, the poor actually being loved and presented with the Truth of the Gospel, in a list of miracles that validated His Ministry.

"And John the Baptist calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?" Luke 7:19

Jesus responds with His "miracles" enumerated! "Jesus answering said unto them, John's disciples, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." Luke 7:22 again.

Yes, Lord.

You are right!

It's a miracle anymore, or nearly so, for poor folks to be included in Church programs! In Church activities! In Church plans!

James' gold-fingered man is in control of most Christian Churches any more. Or so it seems.

Money talks!

But when Jesus was on earth, the poor were important!

Here's one way to know when God is in a place, poor people are loved and included and given the Word of God!

Jesus died for poor folks too!

Look at our Lord's Ministry in depth.

He always protected and provided and nourished the poor.

Maybe because He was raised that way Himself, in Joseph's home.

This Christmas, since we're studying these verses in December, let's be kind to everyone, especially the lowly and humble and poor!

Jesus did that.

                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12:

Jesus sent a message to John the Baptist, the last words ever exchanged between the two, something about not being "offended" at God's Will for one's life.

Actually it all started with a question John had for the Lord. "Art thou He that should come? Or look we for another?"

Jesus responded with a multiple answer. The last clause of which we study today, "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me." Luke 7:23

That verb "offended" is interesting. It's "skandalizo" in Greek, meaning "to stumble down and fall" over something.

This is probably quite similar to our expression, "getting one's feelings hurt and quitting!"

John the Baptist is in jail as he here interacts with Jesus.

He seems discouraged.

Even doubting the Identity of the Saviour!

Jesus is still popular.

John is not.

Jesus is free to roam and preach anywhere.

John is not.

Jesus has many followers.

John no longer does.

Maybe John just became "human" for a while.

Jesus, Who knows everything, responds to John graciously and wisely.

"Our Father in Heaven knows best."

"His Will is good and acceptable and perfect."

"Each child of God must accept whatever God sends his way."

"John, don't be upset or hurt or angry."

"In fact, there's a special blessing for those who do not become offended at God's Plan for their lives!"

"And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me." Luke 7:23

Wow!

That's making Jesus and His Father, the Holy Spirit too, LORD of all!

Listen to Mary the Virgin, "Be it unto me according to thy word." Luke 1:38

Now let's hear Habakkuk, in a longer passage for sure, but just as powerful. "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18

Hard times come to us all.

God is all powerful, controlling every aspect of life.

Consequently questions may arise, like this one: "Why has God allowed this traumatic situation to come my way?"

Then, will we be hurt and offended and subliminally angry at God?

Or will we say, "We will not be offended in our God, in His Son Jesus Christ. We can trust Him in everything."

Jesus, what did you say to John again? "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me."

That word "blessed" is "makarios," a word which was formerly used only of the gods in ancient Greece! Happy as the gods! As well as the gods! Prospering like the gods.

Forget that heathen background now, to us Christians now "makarios" means "as joyful and delighted and approved" as God Himself!

"And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me."

Amen!

                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

And John the Baptist got the message too! We believe he died victoriously and faithfully and heroically! Not being offended in His Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

 

 

CONCLUSION:

I am concerned that these lesson may have presented John the Baptist in a somewhat less than favorable position. He did, I believe, get discouraged.

But he still was a great man of God, one of the greatest who ever lived. Jesus said so as well.

Precisely as soon as Jesus had answered the Baptist's question, "Art thou He that should come? Or look we for another?" our Lord heaped a great compliment upon His Preacher friend, this old rough and seasoned Man of God, John.

"And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist." Luke 7:24 and surrounding verses.

All the other Prophets before the first coming of Jesus only saw Him through the eye of faith! John the Baptist saw Christ eye-to-eye! Physically, literally, definitively!

In that sense for sure John is the greatest!

Did he get discouraged?

Yes, looks like he did.

Is he a giant of the Faith?

Yes, absolutely!

Thank God for the dedication and stamina of John the Baptist!

But then Jesus said one more thing, a surprising statement indeed!

"Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." Luke 7:28

The startling truth: "He or she that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than even John the Baptist!"

This ought to mightily encourage ever single child of God, everyone who has believed since Jesus died on that old rugged Cross!

John the Baptist was not saved after Jesus' Death and Burial and Resurrection. But before. He was not a servant of the Lord's prior to Pentecost, but after that great Event!

John looked forward to these things!

We look back onto them!

John anticipated them!

We celebrate them!

The Holy Spirit came upon John for certain tasks, powerfully so.

But that Same Holy Spirit indwells you and me, permanently and assuredly until either death or the Return of Jesus our Lord!

Those of us who live today in the "Kingdom of God" era have the greatest blessings of all!

Jesus the Saviour has completed His Word!

He sits today in Heaven, not stands or runs or labors!

He intercedes for us, prays for us, empowers us to live successfully and faithfully every day for Him!

Though I am among the least of all God's children, I can still claim and enjoy these privileges!

Anyone discouraged reading here today?

Rejoice!

Though you feel yourself to be the "least," the most "unworthy," the most "faithless" saint in the world ... "Jesus says unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." Luke 7:28

Amen!

Thank You, dear Lord.

                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

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