A Moment with the Bible
After sending John’s messengers back, Jesus takes the opportunity to explain to the multitudes the importance of John’s work. Jesus begins by suggesting a number of reasons why they might have gone out into the wilderness to see John. Was it because he was a “reed shaken by the wind” (an individual who was moved by the fads of the day and would preach what was popular)? Or, were they going to see a man “dressed in soft clothing” (a wealthy celebrity)? No, these were not the things that moved the multitude. Jesus answers His own question. They had gone out to see a prophet. But now Jesus gets to the point: John was more than a prophet; he was the one preparing the way for the coming of the Lord Himself.
Jesus quotes from Malachi 3:1 to identify John as the “messenger of the Lord.” Notice in the quote that God is sending a messenger to prepare the way for His own coming. Malachi had foretold of the arrival of the Messiah who would be the Lord Himself. The Jewish leaders had never understood that the Messiah would actually be God. The Jews looked anxiously for the coming Messiah who would deliver them from their bondage under foreign nations and restore the greatness of the nation of Israel. However, when we read the entire quote of Malachi 3:1-6, we see that Jesus is giving a strong warning. They looked for the Messiah, but when He arrives “who can endure the day of His coming?” (Mal. 3:2). In other words, He would first come in judgment against the Jewish nation purging out the sinners among them so that they would be pure and holy. Therefore, these Jews needed to examine their own lives in light of who had now come in their midst.
The Lord Himself will come one more time in judgment. Most of the “Christian” religious world sees His coming as a good thing. But for many it will not be a good thing. His coming will purge the wicked even though they have been called by His name. Remember the warning from Hebrews 10:30-31, “The Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
A Moment with the Bible
As we begin chapter eleven, we notice that after Jesus concludes His discourse with the twelve, He goes about their cities teaching and preaching. “Their cities” refers to the Galilean cities. From 4:12 through 18:35, Matthew exclusively covers the Galilean ministry of Jesus. This part of His work lasted about a year and a half, just less that half of His three and half year ministry on the earth.
We will later learn why John the Baptist is in prison (Mt. 14), but for now Matthew relates to us a period of doubt that is expressed by John. Of course, John was the one who originally announced Jesus as the Messiah (Jn. 1:29), which was confirmed to him by a heavenly revelation when he saw the Spirit come upon Jesus in the form of a dove at His baptism (Jn. 1:33-34). Why would John now question whether or not Jesus was the “One?” Though the scriptures do not explicitly answer this question, the most likely answer is that things were not happening the way John envisioned. John may have had the typical Jewish picture of the coming Messiah where He would reign as King or at the very least not allow His servants to be at the mercy of unscrupulous men like Herod.
Jesus’ answer to the messengers sent by John is to first spend the next hour healing all manner of diseases and casting out evil spirits (Luke 7:21). Then Jesus told these messengers to go and tell John what they had seen. It is interesting that Jesus does not just answer John by saying, “Yes, I am the One.” Someone who was a fraud would have answered exactly that way. Instead, Jesus wants John to believe based on evidence. This is the critical point of our text and the lesson we need to learn. Faith in Christ is not “blind.” It does not accept Jesus simply based on His claim to be the Son of God. Jesus never asked anyone to believe in Him without evidence. It is foolish for anyone to believe without being able to give a reason for his or her faith (1 Pet. 3:15). This is exactly the reason Jesus performed such extraordinary miracles. In John 10:37-38, Jesus even challenged the Jews to believe Him based on His works, not simply on His words.
A Moment with the Bible
Most people do not realize the critical position in which Jesus placed His apostles. Look carefully at the words, “He who receives you receives Me.” The apostles would preach the words that Jesus gave them. When people accepted those words, they accepted the apostles, and when they accepted the apostles, they were accepting Christ. The implications of this are important for all generations. In order to accept Christ, we must accept the teaching of the apostles because their teaching came from Christ. Many religious people believe that they are accepting Christ when they simply accept that He is the Son of God who died for their sins. After that, they will disregard many of the teachings of the apostles in the New Testament as being unimportant to their salvation or to their relationship with Christ. But according to this text, accepting the apostles and their words is necessary for a person to accept Christ. To reject the apostles’ teaching is to reject Christ because the apostles’ words are the words of Christ.
Consider the words of Jesus to the apostles in John 16:13: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” Sometimes I hear people saying, “I only read the ‘red letters’ because that is the words of Christ. What they do not understand is, the “red letters” are the words of Christ while He was on the earth, but the black letters are the words of Christ that He sent back to the apostles from heaven. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit back to the apostles so that they could reveal the rest of His words. Therefore, we must not be deceived; anyone who rejects the apostles’ teaching is rejecting Christ Himself.
A Moment with the Bible
What is the vision for your life? What are your plans and goals? Where do you imagine yourself being in ten, fifteen, or twenty years? What possessions do you hope to have? All of these questions are a normal part of our lives. But if we are not careful, we will “lose our life” in the process of trying to find it.
A parallel passage to this text reads, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt. 16:25). At first glance, it may appear that Jesus is saying that if we give up any kind of enjoyment in our present life, then we will receive the enjoyment of eternal life. This view is typical of how the world sees Christianity. To live as a Christian, it is believed, would mean sacrificing all that would be fun and pleasurable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We are all searching for the best in life. We want to live our life to the fullest and make it everything it can be. What is interesting is, God wants exactly the same thing for us and in this verse Jesus gives us a prescription for just that kind of life. Since God is our Creator, He knows exactly what will give us the best life possible. Therefore Jesus states that the key to true living is to lose our life for His sake. This is true because this is how He designed us. We were designed to experience the greatest joy when we devote our lives to serving Him.
An old beer commercial once said, “You only go around once in life, so get all the gusto!” That is the world’s prescription for living. That is Satan’s lie. The sure way to lose true living, true joy, is to go and get all the gusto. Satan wants us to believe that devoting our lives to finding happiness in recreation, entertainment, and possessions will give us the ultimate happiness. Jesus says it will not and our experiences prove it will not. Each of these areas of life provides us a temporary pleasure at best, but afterward it is empty. As the Preacher in Ecclesiastes states as he describes a life from a purely earthly perspective, “All is vanity and striving after the wind” (Ecc. 2:11). Don’t make that mistake. Lose your life for His sake, and you will find it.
Join Us for Upcoming Lectureship
Please join us as we host a lectureship beginning Sunday, September 11th - Thursday, September 15th. The meeting times will be Sunday at 9:30am, 10:30am and 5:00pm. Monday - Thursday will be at 7:00pm.
Sunday - Taylor Ladd, Scott Kercheville and Erik Borlaug.
Monday - Berry Kercheville and Andy Cantrell.
Tuesday - Nathan Combs.
Wednesday - Brent Kercheville.
Thursday - Ross Oldencamp.