Hi there, it’s Dave here with another Foundations podcast. Today our passage is from Luke 7:18-35. This week as we’ve been thinking on Luke’s Gospel, we’ve been using two questions to help us to think on what God might be saying to us. The first is how does Jesus challenge our expectations and the second, what can we be sure of about Jesus? Hopefully these questions have been helpful so far this week.
Today’s passage is a story of John the Baptist sending some of his followers to Jesus to find out if He is the one that the Jews have been waiting for. Jesus then leans into this idea of expectation. Is He who the people expect? Is John what people expected of a prophet? Does he act like one? Here are verses 20-22 and then a couple of thoughts on what we might take from the passage.
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
The followers of John the Baptist that have been sent to Jesus are just asking what they’ve been told to ask, so it’s tricky to know what they might expect from Jesus. What is clear though is Jesus’ response to them. This is clearly a day to focus on the second of our two questions. Jesus recognises that there will always be questions about who He is. About His mission. Instead of giving them an answer that they just have to believe, or charming them with clever words, He presents another option to provide both answers and evidence in one go. Simply, report what you’ve seen. The implied part being, go on, you can connect the dots. There’s no way that these things you see can be done by any other power than God. He gives them far better than a verbal answer, He gives them the gift of testimony. They can tell their own stories of the things they have seen Jesus do. Each of their testimonies will be slightly different. Maybe one thing they’ve seen happen has impacted them more. Maybe some of them experienced miracles in their own lives.
After they have left Jesus displays another way that we can have surety in His message – He uses scripture. In this instance He’s talking about John but in many other passages He uses scripture to help people to understand who He is. To give people touchpoints that they can come back to. Testimony and scripture. These two places of surety stand for us today.
In life so many unexpected things happen. For example, as I write this podcast, just a few days ahead of when you will listen to it or read it, I’m considering that I would have an easier time predicting the precise weather outside your window than of predicting what’s happened in British politics. It’s so important that we can be sure of what Jesus says, of who He is, of what difference He makes in the world around us. We do that through reading scripture, the Bible, and recognising God at work in our lives. What are our stories? Where can we recall God breaking through in an area we’ve prayed about? We can be sure of who Jesus is; be encouraged by that today!
As I finish I want to leave us with a small extension exercise. If today you would like a little inspiration to go along with thinking of our own stories and digging into the Bible, then allow me to direct you to another excellent YouTube video. It’s a classic sermon visual aid. Jesus is the King of this world, we can be sure of that, but what does that mean? What do we expect from a King? If you search for a video called ‘That’s my King’ you’ll hopefully have some food for thought. Watch it here.
Father, thank you that we can have confidence in who you are. Thank you for the Bible and thank you for our own story. Help us to be mindful of who you are today. Amen.
READING: Luke 7:18-35
John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’
When the men came to Jesus, they said, ‘John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”’
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, illnesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’
After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
‘“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”
I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’
(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptised by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptised by John.)
Jesus went on to say, ‘To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling out to each other:
‘“We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.”
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by all her children.’