Today’s message summary of December 2, 2018 from Pastor Gus Brown:
John the Baptist fulfilled his role in the ministry, and he would eventually move to the background. Note that he was not very old. He was only about six months older than Jesus; yet, he would learn that he would live out his own words.
John responded, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John is in prison when Jesus’ ministry was taking off. He was used to being in the wilderness and baptizing people. He hears about the teaching of Jesus and the healing taking place, but he does not see it firsthand. Jesus was healing, teaching and preaching. He had to be told what was going on.
When he had concluded saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. A centurion’s servant, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, requesting him to come and save the life of his servant. When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy for you to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue.” Jesus went with them, and when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, since I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. That is why I didn’t even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Jesus heard this and was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant in good health. Afterward he was on his way to a town called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd were traveling with him. Just as he neared the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was also with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Young man, I tell you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Then fear came over everyone, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people.”
When Jesus had finished giving instructions to his twelve disciples, he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns. Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”
John was in prison for about 10 months. His information came from those who were to relate it to him. He asks the question as to whether or not these words are true. Ultimately, he gets the word directly from Jesus as to what was happening.
God can handle our doubts.
Doubts can lead to questions. If the questions are sincere, honest and genuine, they are coming from the heart, and God will receive it.
Asking God questions merely an attempt to resolve doubt and uncertainty.
John called upon two of disciples to get information to address his questions (Luke 7:18-19). These two are trusted by John to get what he is looking for.
John sent them to ask Jesus if he is the one who was to come. He wants the answer directly from Jesus to know for himself.
He wanted to know if we should expect someone else. He did believe in God’s promise, and he was willing to continue to wait longer, if necessary.
In the same way, a person who is asking about their own salvation needs to be certain as to where he is instead of speculating about it.
Remember that John is in a very dark place, and his future was unknown at that time. He wants the reassurance that He is indeed the Messiah.
2 Timothy 1:11-12
For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.
Paul knew beyond a shadow of a doubt in faith that Jesus would indeed would return to receive him (and all of us) to Himself.
The power of God must be experienced by the believer. It is a work that occurs within.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
The Spirit of God lives within the life of the believer.
You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you.
If the Spirit lives within you, there should be a difference in your life.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
Jesus gives a view of His ministry.
He replied to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”
Jesus never comes out and says that He is the Messiah. He only points out what is happening that is life-changing before others. The lesson here is that there have been people before Jesus who had declared outright that they were messiahs. He wants John to recognize that the things that are occurring would never happen if God was not involved.
It should also be noted that the ‘poor are being told the good news.’ The poor were most often overlooked by many in society. That is also the case today. Jesus made it a point to emphasize that He was concerned about the poor knowing the good news of Christ.
John spent his time speaking about repentance. Jesus’ ministry was healing. Note that their ministries were complementary. When repentance occurs, healing is actually taking place. It is not just physical healing, but spiritual healing. The difference between John’s ministry and Jesus’ ministry is that John didn’t perform physical healing, but Jesus did physically heal the people.
Jesus promises that He will always be with us. It is a matter for a person to believe He is who He is.
Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?” Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were complaining about this, asked them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some among you who don’t believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe and the one who would betray him.) He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.” From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you? Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
There is a contrast here: John is the last to function like the Old Testament prophets. He is looking to the Messiah and to the cross. John is the last to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus. The contrast is your life before Jesus Christ and your new life in the fullness of Christ.
John is viewed differently between men and by how God views him.
After John’s messengers left, he began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who are splendidly dressed and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then 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: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you. I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
God viewed him very highly, but we are reminded that John is much like who we are–messengers of God’s good news.
“See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in—see, he is coming,” says the Lord of Armies.
Every task that God assigns for us is important. The person with the littlest task assignment can be as great as John.
“Which one of you having a servant tending sheep or plowing will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? Instead, will he not tell him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, get ready, and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are worthless servants; we’ve only done our duty.'”
John was great because he performed his duty. He lived out his purpose to serve the Lord.