Lukeby Mike Raiter
People are continually amazed at Jesus’ ministry, and so it is not surprising that the news is spreading everywhere, even to the prison cell where a faithful but perplexed John the Baptist is being held captive by Herod (Luke 3:20; 7:18–19).
John had warned Israel of imminent judgment: “The axe has been laid to the root of the trees” (3:9). He preached about the One who would bring this judgment, saying He “will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (3:17). Yet, John’s disciples bring him no news of signs of judgment, only works of grace (7:21–22).
A confused John sends his disciples back to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come?” (v. 20). Even as they ask the question, Luke tells us of Jesus healing many with diseases (v. 21). Isaiah had foretold that when the Messiah comes, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame leap like a deer, and “water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:5–6). In other words, John is being reminded that while judgment will come, this is the day for streams of grace, not fires of judgment.
Despite the question, Jesus reaffirms John’s greatness (vv. 24–27). But stunningly, even the least of Jesus’ disciples is greater (v. 28), just as the kingdom is far more blessed than the one that merely foreshadowed it. Let’s never forget the incredible privilege of living under the rule of Jesus.
Finally, Jesus notes the contrasting responses of people to His and John’s ministry (vv. 29–35). The religious leaders are like whining children, complaining that John and Jesus do not dance to their tune. Indeed, whatever tune these leaders play, be it happy or sad, the ministry of these two servants of God cannot please them. But the fact that the people and tax collectors have drawn near to God, through the way they have proclaimed it, shows the correctness of their teaching (“wisdom”) and that they are from God (v. 35).
As you pray for family and friends to come to faith, or pray for God’s blessings in your own life, it is so good to remember that these are the days of grace, mercy, and salvation.
Make a list of some of the many blessings that we enjoy today being a part of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
Even great saints like John the Baptist sometimes have their doubts (vv. 18–19). What can we learn about doubt and faith from John’s question and Jesus’ response?