Are You the One who was to Come or Should We Expect Someone Else? (Luke 7:18-35)

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Are You the One who was to Come or Should We Expect Someone Else?
2019 Christmas Prep #1
Luke 7:18-35
KV 7:22-23 “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.”
Today is December 1st. Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to focus on Christmas. Every year it seems people start to look forward to Christmas earlier and earlier. When I was growing up it was forbidden to start putting up Christmas decorations or play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. But now people seem to want to celebrate earlier and earlier. My family went to DC on Wednesday night, so many trees, lights and decorations were already up! There’s just something about Christmas that people can’t wait for. There’s this excitement building up about Christmas day. We count down the days etc. Do you know how many days are left until Christmas? I think there’s no other day that people look forward to more than Christmas day.
There are many things to look forward to at or around Christmas – the lights, the presents, the time off from work, the music, secret Santas, real Santas, reindeer, Christmas parties, Christmas movies, Christmas bonuses at work, the food (Christmas cookies, egg nog). But as Christians we look back on the one who came. He is the reason for the season. We celebrate and can have great joy because the One who was to come first came. Jesus the Messiah, our LORD and Savior whom the Scriptures testified to came in the flesh.
One thing I do look forward to at Christmas is Christmas music. The 18th century hymn writer Charles Wesley composed more than seventy00 hymns in his life including one called “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”. In it he reminds us wonderfully of what Jesus coming would mean.
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne
Jesus the one who sets people free, releases us from fears, gives us rest, hope, joy, strength, comfort came. The one born to reign and rule in our hearts forever came. The one who enabled sinners to come to his glorious and gracious kingdom came. The one who came to raise us to his glorious throne came. Praise God that the One who is to come came and we have every reason to rejoice and celebrate.
John Wesley’s identification of Jesus as the long expected one reflects John the Baptist’s question in today’s passage, “Are you the One who was to come?”. When we read the Scriptures we see again and again references to the one who was to come. We finished Genesis this year. We saw where God promised through Abraham’s offspring that all people on earth would be blessed. We saw where despite sin, unbelief, human weakness etc. Nothing could stop God’s wonderful salvation plan to bring Jesus in the world. Jesus was the one whom God promised through David to build an everlasting kingdom. “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever!” (2 Samuel 7:12–13).
Jesus said the whole old testament testified to his coming. Jesus said Abraham hoped for him, Moses wrote of him, David called him Lord. Jesus rebuked Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27). Paul talks about Jesus’ coming in Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
In today’s passage we see a man who spent his entire life eagerly waiting for Jesus to come. John didn’t just wait for him but actively made a way for Jesus’ coming, pointing others to His coming. When people asked John who he was he replied he was the one who would make straight the way for the LORD. He talked about the one who came after him who was more powerful than him, the straps of whose sandals I am unworthy to untie. He talked about the one who would come after him who would baptize with the holy spirit and fire. Though he worked hard to raise his own disciples, John even pointed them to Jesus in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. In sum, John’s whole life looked forward to Jesus’ coming.
In today’s passage, we find some time has passed since the days of John’s ministry. He’s been locked up in prison after rebuking Herod for all the evil things he had done. While he’s in prison he hears about all the things Jesus was doing. Then he sends two of them with a question for Jesus. Let’s read verse 19. “he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”.
What did John want to ask Jesus at this time? Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else? At first glance we think it’s shocking for John the pious, devoted and fearless man to ask such a question of Jesus. Certainly he knew Jesus was the one based on what John had said and done with his life up until this time. John’s question would be the equivalent of John Piper, John MacArthur’s of today asking such a question. Or even our most dedicated and faithful missionary like Elijah Park.
From John’s question we learn that having faith in Jesus is not just a one time thing. Jesus would write later in this passage that John was the greatest among all those born of women but even he needed to renew his faith in Jesus. Though many people are critical of John’s question as it seems to show doubt as we’ll see later, through asking this honest question to Jesus John could find help to stand firm and not stumble during his time of struggle.
Some of us have heard the Christmas message every year for the past 20-30 years or more. Some of us made decisions long ago to follow Jesus, becoming missionaries, disciples, bible teachers etc. Let us approach the Christmas season like John “Are you the one who is to come” and meet Jesus newly and freshly.
In verse 21 we see that At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. Let’s see how Jesus responded to John’s question.
Let’s read verses 22-23. 22 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[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
When we look at how Jesus replied we wonder why he didn’t just answer John’s question directly himself but instead sent a report. Jesus could have just answered directly but said “Yes sir, I am him and you don’t have to expect anyone else sir.”. Why didn’t he respond like that? The question about who Jesus is is the most important question anyone can ever answer. Jesus wants us to answer this question for ourselves using our own mind based on the evidence of His work and fulfilled prophecy. After being with them for some time he asked Peter and his disciples “Who do you say I am?”. He doesn’t want us to just accept because someone even Jesus himself said he was. The Bible commends the noble-minded Bereans who received the word preached to them by Paul and Silas with great eagerness, while at the same time examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were really so. Likewise, he wants us to go and look at His work and test the Scriptures concerning him. When we do we can be convicted that He indeed is the One who was to come.
What report did Jesus have given to John? Thankfully Jesus’ report is not as long as the Mueller report I see people reading in the doctor’s offices and the subway in DC. About 2 to 3 times as thick as the OT scriptures! Instead Jesus asks his messengers to simply go back and report what they themselves have seen and heard. From his report we can tell two things. First, Jesus asks John to look at the work he’s doing. At this very time Jesus had given sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cleansed the leper, made the deaf hear, even raised the dead. Jesus was healing the weak, sick, hopeless and miserable…giving life to the dead.
This was work that was so miraculous and remarkable that nobody could have imagined such a thing could take place. When Jesus healed the man born blind in John 9 the man replied “Never before has anyone heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God he could do nothing.”. When Jesus raised the widow’s son in the previous passage all the people were filled with awe and praised God saying “A great prophet has appeared among us, God has come to help his people.”. When they saw how Jesus raised the dead they couldn’t help but say “God has come to help his people.”. The work that Jesus was doing was powerful, revolutionary and unprecedented. Thus, Jesus told John don’t just take my word but look at my work. Look at what I’m doing.
Second, Jesus’ report was a fulfillment of prophecy written about him in Isaiah. John would have known Isaiah very well as he himself quoted the book on various occasions. Jesus knew that most of all John needed the word of God. Only when we hold onto the word of God are we able to overcome our struggles and doubts and stand firm as children of God. This past Friday we heard many thanksgiving testimonies. Some of the most powerful ones were those that held onto the word of God in the midst of their struggles like M. Tunde who said he held onto the new year’s message “Be dressed and ready for service.” And M. Peter who shared in our fellowship on the verse his shepherd gave him when visiting him this year “Do you love me? Feed my sheep”. When Jesus saw John struggling He gave him the word of God about himself. When we are struggling in our walk of faith we too must go to the Word of God. When we see others struggling we help them by sitting down with them, opening up the scripture and give them the Word of God. One time I told my Bible teacher that I wanted to leave and give up on shepherd life and UBF thinking I was too weak and lowly a person for such an important work. Then he gave me 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 “26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”. After hearing this verse I was moved and decided to stay by faith in God and accepted my Bible teacher’s direction and training. Likewise, Jesus knew John needed the Word of God so he gave it to him in this report.
What else did he say? Let’s read verse 23 together. “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”. Jesus noticed that John the Baptist was in danger of stumbling because of his focus was on what Jesus was not doing. John likely expected Jesus to bring immediate judgment, to crush Israel’s enemies, even set captives like him free.
But Jesus was doing none of those things. Instead his first coming was characterized by mercy and grace. When he came the first time in the flesh he was full of mercy and grace to save helpless sinners. He had compassion on sick and hurting people. He reached out and touched the leper’s hands and had mercy on those like blind Bartimaeus who shouted out in a loud voice “Son of David, have mercy on me”. Even as great as John was, even he couldn’t understand what Jesus was doing at the moment. John seemed to not understand that there were two comings of the Messiah, the 2nd of which was for judgment, the first of which was to become a provision for man’s salvation by dying for the sins of the world. Jesus’ first coming was to bear the judgment of God, not to bring it. He didn’t understand that Jesus had to die to truly set the captives free. He seemed on the verge of stumbling because of his own expectations and understanding of what Jesus should be doing at the moment. So Jesus tries to encourage him saying “Blessed is the man who does not stumble on account of me.”. The blessed man is not the man who understands everything but the man who puts his trust in Him. May God bless each of us to do so!
Jesus is saying blessed is the person who doesn’t get tripped up or upset or confused on account of me. John was being tripped up for not understanding why Jesus wasn’t coming in judgment right then and there or coming to set him free. Like John, there are many today who get confused and stumble over what Jesus is doing. We can’t understand why He doesn’t answer all of my prayers, why he doesn’t deliver me from my situation, why He didn’t give me the job, why I can’t have a baby, why my family member still doesn’t believe in Jesus, why I haven’t raised 12 disciples yet. Others get confused, upset even offended over why they need a Savior, how only Jesus can save me, how Jesus created the world. These issues in many cases become a stumbling block for us in accepting the One who was to come. The Pharisees couldn’t get over the fact that Jesus associated himself with tax collectors and sinners. They were offended and stumbled at the forgiveness Jesus offered to despised dirty sinners.
When I was preparing this message I heard one messenger who said “Don’t try to understand yourself before you understand Jesus. Come and understand Jesus and then you can understand yourself”. John thought he knew what he wanted and needed and Jesus should get on board and get with it. Come set him free and bring judgment. But Jesus invites him to just come, accept him and trust him. See the work I am doing, the prophecies that are being fulfilled by me and trust me.
We just studied the book of Philippians, I was greatly moved by Paul who said “I want to know Christ”. Paul had his challenges and hardships in his life. He had thorns that God didn’t take away though he prayed. He was in prison when he wrote the letter and God hadn’t delivered him. He had gotten hurt by many people. His life may not have gone the way he imagined up until that point. All these things could have been stumbling blocks to him. But he simply said “I want to know Christ”. My friends, Jesus is the one who was and is and is to come. There will not be another. Jesus Christ is the gift of God, the Savior that has been born to me and to you. He’s the One we’ve been waiting for. Romans 10:11 says “All those who trust in Him will never be put to shame.”. Jesus is the precious cornerstone that is precious to those who believe but is the stone that causes those that don’t to stumble and fall. This Christmas season let’s don’t let anything get in the way of knowing Him and trusting in Him. In the next two weeks we’ll study more about why He came through John 1 and Matthew 1. Let’s come prepared to meet him newly. Let’s ask Jesus with expectant hearts “Are you the one who was to come?”.
When Jesus gave John God’s word and encouraged him not to stumble on account of him John responded with faith. He stood firm and trusted in the one who was to come.
However, how about that age and generation? Did they respond to God the way God called them to do? After Jesus gave high praise of John Baptist’s life of faith in verses 24-28, Jesus then expressed his disappointment and sadness at that generation, especially the religious leaders who stumbled and rejected him. Let’s read verse 31-32, “Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace 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.’”
This was a common child game at that time played at marketplace. The children imitated joyous and mournful scenes of life by playing the pipe at wedding or singing a dirge at funeral, and their playmates saw this and were supposed to respond accordingly by dancing or crying according to the performance. One can imagine this would be a fun game to play and watch if the children responded well.
When my son Noah just learnt to say the word mom, he was so happy to call mom and excitedly waited for my wife’s answering. My wife was so joyful about baby’s first word mom and gave him an exaggerating YES with big smile and hug. Mom’s response turned to trigger the baby call mom louder again and again, and mom kept answering with dramatic voice YES. They could play that the whole afternoon and I could see much love and joy overflowing between them. But later my wife got tired and had to be busy with something else. She stopped responding to him and baby was very sad.
Here Jesus said this generation didn’t respond at all to whatever God had shown them. What did God do? Isaiah 65:2 says, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—” Luke 13:34
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” What did God do? God sent John Baptist and then his only son Jesus. But they disliked John Baptist who came neither eating bread nor drinking wine saying he had a demon. They judged Jesus who came eating and drinking saying he was a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. They were like those little children who failed to respond to anything.
In all my years of marriage I find one thing that my wife really hates. It’s when I fail to respond to her calling. If I’m upstairs and don’t hear her calling or don’t answer her phone call, how upset and disappointed she becomes. If I check my phone and have more than 1 missed call from her I know how disappointed she is going to be. In the same way, how disappointed and sad is God when we fail to respond to Jesus’ coming into the world. Sending Jesus was God’s act of love for sinners. God so loved the world that he sent His only son that whoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life. In Luke 2:10 the angels said of Jesus coming “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the LORD”.
God so loves you that he gave his one and only son. He wants you to believe in Him, have life in His name and be full of great joy. He wants you to accept the gift that only He can offer you by responding to Jesus’ coming into the world to be with us, love us and pay the price for our sins. He wants to meet you newly this Christmas season. May God bless you to accept the one who was to come who came for you this Christmas.

Are You the One who was to Come or Should We Expect Someone Else?
2019 Christmas Prep #1
Luke 7:18-35
KV 7:22-23 “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.”
Today is December 1st. Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to focus on Christmas. Every year it seems people start to look forward to Christmas earlier and earlier. When I was growing up it was forbidden to start putting up Christmas decorations or play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. But now people seem to want to celebrate earlier and earlier. My family went to DC on Wednesday night, so many trees, lights and decorations were already up! There’s just something about Christmas that people can’t wait for. There’s this excitement building up about Christmas day. We count down the days etc. Do you know how many days are left until Christmas? I think there’s no other day that people look forward to more than Christmas day.
There are many things to look forward to at or around Christmas – the lights, the presents, the time off from work, the music, secret Santas, real Santas, reindeer, Christmas parties, Christmas movies, Christmas bonuses at work, the food (Christmas cookies, egg nog). But as Christians we look back on the one who came. He is the reason for the season. We celebrate and can have great joy because the One who was to come first came. Jesus the Messiah, our LORD and Savior whom the Scriptures testified to came in the flesh.
One thing I do look forward to at Christmas is Christmas music. The 18th century hymn writer Charles Wesley composed more than seventy00 hymns in his life including one called “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”. In it he reminds us wonderfully of what Jesus coming would mean.
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne
Jesus the one who sets people free, releases us from fears, gives us rest, hope, joy, strength, comfort came. The one born to reign and rule in our hearts forever came. The one who enabled sinners to come to his glorious and gracious kingdom came. The one who came to raise us to his glorious throne came. Praise God that the One who is to come came and we have every reason to rejoice and celebrate.
John Wesley’s identification of Jesus as the long expected one reflects John the Baptist’s question in today’s passage, “Are you the One who was to come?”. When we read the Scriptures we see again and again references to the one who was to come. We finished Genesis this year. We saw where God promised through Abraham’s offspring that all people on earth would be blessed. We saw where despite sin, unbelief, human weakness etc. Nothing could stop God’s wonderful salvation plan to bring Jesus in the world. Jesus was the one whom God promised through David to build an everlasting kingdom. “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever!” (2 Samuel 7:12–13).
Jesus said the whole old testament testified to his coming. Jesus said Abraham hoped for him, Moses wrote of him, David called him Lord. Jesus rebuked Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27). Paul talks about Jesus’ coming in Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
In today’s passage we see a man who spent his entire life eagerly waiting for Jesus to come. John didn’t just wait for him but actively made a way for Jesus’ coming, pointing others to His coming. When people asked John who he was he replied he was the one who would make straight the way for the LORD. He talked about the one who came after him who was more powerful than him, the straps of whose sandals I am unworthy to untie. He talked about the one who would come after him who would baptize with the holy spirit and fire. Though he worked hard to raise his own disciples, John even pointed them to Jesus in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. In sum, John’s whole life looked forward to Jesus’ coming.
In today’s passage, we find some time has passed since the days of John’s ministry. He’s been locked up in prison after rebuking Herod for all the evil things he had done. While he’s in prison he hears about all the things Jesus was doing. Then he sends two of them with a question for Jesus. Let’s read verse 19. “he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”.
What did John want to ask Jesus at this time? Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else? At first glance we think it’s shocking for John the pious, devoted and fearless man to ask such a question of Jesus. Certainly he knew Jesus was the one based on what John had said and done with his life up until this time. John’s question would be the equivalent of John Piper, John MacArthur’s of today asking such a question. Or even our most dedicated and faithful missionary like Elijah Park.
From John’s question we learn that having faith in Jesus is not just a one time thing. Jesus would write later in this passage that John was the greatest among all those born of women but even he needed to renew his faith in Jesus. Though many people are critical of John’s question as it seems to show doubt as we’ll see later, through asking this honest question to Jesus John could find help to stand firm and not stumble during his time of struggle.
Some of us have heard the Christmas message every year for the past 20-30 years or more. Some of us made decisions long ago to follow Jesus, becoming missionaries, disciples, bible teachers etc. Let us approach the Christmas season like John “Are you the one who is to come” and meet Jesus newly and freshly.
In verse 21 we see that At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. Let’s see how Jesus responded to John’s question.
Let’s read verses 22-23. 22 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[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
When we look at how Jesus replied we wonder why he didn’t just answer John’s question directly himself but instead sent a report. Jesus could have just answered directly but said “Yes sir, I am him and you don’t have to expect anyone else sir.”. Why didn’t he respond like that? The question about who Jesus is is the most important question anyone can ever answer. Jesus wants us to answer this question for ourselves using our own mind based on the evidence of His work and fulfilled prophecy. After being with them for some time he asked Peter and his disciples “Who do you say I am?”. He doesn’t want us to just accept because someone even Jesus himself said he was. The Bible commends the noble-minded Bereans who received the word preached to them by Paul and Silas with great eagerness, while at the same time examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were really so. Likewise, he wants us to go and look at His work and test the Scriptures concerning him. When we do we can be convicted that He indeed is the One who was to come.
What report did Jesus have given to John? Thankfully Jesus’ report is not as long as the Mueller report I see people reading in the doctor’s offices and the subway in DC. About 2 to 3 times as thick as the OT scriptures! Instead Jesus asks his messengers to simply go back and report what they themselves have seen and heard. From his report we can tell two things. First, Jesus asks John to look at the work he’s doing. At this very time Jesus had given sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cleansed the leper, made the deaf hear, even raised the dead. Jesus was healing the weak, sick, hopeless and miserable…giving life to the dead.
This was work that was so miraculous and remarkable that nobody could have imagined such a thing could take place. When Jesus healed the man born blind in John 9 the man replied “Never before has anyone heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God he could do nothing.”. When Jesus raised the widow’s son in the previous passage all the people were filled with awe and praised God saying “A great prophet has appeared among us, God has come to help his people.”. When they saw how Jesus raised the dead they couldn’t help but say “God has come to help his people.”. The work that Jesus was doing was powerful, revolutionary and unprecedented. Thus, Jesus told John don’t just take my word but look at my work. Look at what I’m doing.
Second, Jesus’ report was a fulfillment of prophecy written about him in Isaiah. John would have known Isaiah very well as he himself quoted the book on various occasions. Jesus knew that most of all John needed the word of God. Only when we hold onto the word of God are we able to overcome our struggles and doubts and stand firm as children of God. This past Friday we heard many thanksgiving testimonies. Some of the most powerful ones were those that held onto the word of God in the midst of their struggles like M. Tunde who said he held onto the new year’s message “Be dressed and ready for service.” And M. Peter who shared in our fellowship on the verse his shepherd gave him when visiting him this year “Do you love me? Feed my sheep”. When Jesus saw John struggling He gave him the word of God about himself. When we are struggling in our walk of faith we too must go to the Word of God. When we see others struggling we help them by sitting down with them, opening up the scripture and give them the Word of God. One time I told my Bible teacher that I wanted to leave and give up on shepherd life and UBF thinking I was too weak and lowly a person for such an important work. Then he gave me 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 “26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”. After hearing this verse I was moved and decided to stay by faith in God and accepted my Bible teacher’s direction and training. Likewise, Jesus knew John needed the Word of God so he gave it to him in this report.
What else did he say? Let’s read verse 23 together. “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”. Jesus noticed that John the Baptist was in danger of stumbling because of his focus was on what Jesus was not doing. John likely expected Jesus to bring immediate judgment, to crush Israel’s enemies, even set captives like him free.
But Jesus was doing none of those things. Instead his first coming was characterized by mercy and grace. When he came the first time in the flesh he was full of mercy and grace to save helpless sinners. He had compassion on sick and hurting people. He reached out and touched the leper’s hands and had mercy on those like blind Bartimaeus who shouted out in a loud voice “Son of David, have mercy on me”. Even as great as John was, even he couldn’t understand what Jesus was doing at the moment. John seemed to not understand that there were two comings of the Messiah, the 2nd of which was for judgment, the first of which was to become a provision for man’s salvation by dying for the sins of the world. Jesus’ first coming was to bear the judgment of God, not to bring it. He didn’t understand that Jesus had to die to truly set the captives free. He seemed on the verge of stumbling because of his own expectations and understanding of what Jesus should be doing at the moment. So Jesus tries to encourage him saying “Blessed is the man who does not stumble on account of me.”. The blessed man is not the man who understands everything but the man who puts his trust in Him. May God bless each of us to do so!
Jesus is saying blessed is the person who doesn’t get tripped up or upset or confused on account of me. John was being tripped up for not understanding why Jesus wasn’t coming in judgment right then and there or coming to set him free. Like John, there are many today who get confused and stumble over what Jesus is doing. We can’t understand why He doesn’t answer all of my prayers, why he doesn’t deliver me from my situation, why He didn’t give me the job, why I can’t have a baby, why my family member still doesn’t believe in Jesus, why I haven’t raised 12 disciples yet. Others get confused, upset even offended over why they need a Savior, how only Jesus can save me, how Jesus created the world. These issues in many cases become a stumbling block for us in accepting the One who was to come. The Pharisees couldn’t get over the fact that Jesus associated himself with tax collectors and sinners. They were offended and stumbled at the forgiveness Jesus offered to despised dirty sinners.
When I was preparing this message I heard one messenger who said “Don’t try to understand yourself before you understand Jesus. Come and understand Jesus and then you can understand yourself”. John thought he knew what he wanted and needed and Jesus should get on board and get with it. Come set him free and bring judgment. But Jesus invites him to just come, accept him and trust him. See the work I am doing, the prophecies that are being fulfilled by me and trust me.
We just studied the book of Philippians, I was greatly moved by Paul who said “I want to know Christ”. Paul had his challenges and hardships in his life. He had thorns that God didn’t take away though he prayed. He was in prison when he wrote the letter and God hadn’t delivered him. He had gotten hurt by many people. His life may not have gone the way he imagined up until that point. All these things could have been stumbling blocks to him. But he simply said “I want to know Christ”. My friends, Jesus is the one who was and is and is to come. There will not be another. Jesus Christ is the gift of God, the Savior that has been born to me and to you. He’s the One we’ve been waiting for. Romans 10:11 says “All those who trust in Him will never be put to shame.”. Jesus is the precious cornerstone that is precious to those who believe but is the stone that causes those that don’t to stumble and fall. This Christmas season let’s don’t let anything get in the way of knowing Him and trusting in Him. In the next two weeks we’ll study more about why He came through John 1 and Matthew 1. Let’s come prepared to meet him newly. Let’s ask Jesus with expectant hearts “Are you the one who was to come?”.
When Jesus gave John God’s word and encouraged him not to stumble on account of him John responded with faith. He stood firm and trusted in the one who was to come.
However, how about that age and generation? Did they respond to God the way God called them to do? After Jesus gave high praise of John Baptist’s life of faith in verses 24-28, Jesus then expressed his disappointment and sadness at that generation, especially the religious leaders who stumbled and rejected him. Let’s read verse 31-32, “Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace 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.’”
This was a common child game at that time played at marketplace. The children imitated joyous and mournful scenes of life by playing the pipe at wedding or singing a dirge at funeral, and their playmates saw this and were supposed to respond accordingly by dancing or crying according to the performance. One can imagine this would be a fun game to play and watch if the children responded well.
When my son Noah just learnt to say the word mom, he was so happy to call mom and excitedly waited for my wife’s answering. My wife was so joyful about baby’s first word mom and gave him an exaggerating YES with big smile and hug. Mom’s response turned to trigger the baby call mom louder again and again, and mom kept answering with dramatic voice YES. They could play that the whole afternoon and I could see much love and joy overflowing between them. But later my wife got tired and had to be busy with something else. She stopped responding to him and baby was very sad.
Here Jesus said this generation didn’t respond at all to whatever God had shown them. What did God do? Isaiah 65:2 says, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—” Luke 13:34
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” What did God do? God sent John Baptist and then his only son Jesus. But they disliked John Baptist who came neither eating bread nor drinking wine saying he had a demon. They judged Jesus who came eating and drinking saying he was a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. They were like those little children who failed to respond to anything.
In all my years of marriage I find one thing that my wife really hates. It’s when I fail to respond to her calling. If I’m upstairs and don’t hear her calling or don’t answer her phone call, how upset and disappointed she becomes. If I check my phone and have more than 1 missed call from her I know how disappointed she is going to be. In the same way, how disappointed and sad is God when we fail to respond to Jesus’ coming into the world. Sending Jesus was God’s act of love for sinners. God so loved the world that he sent His only son that whoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life. In Luke 2:10 the angels said of Jesus coming “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the LORD”.
God so loves you that he gave his one and only son. He wants you to believe in Him, have life in His name and be full of great joy. He wants you to accept the gift that only He can offer you by responding to Jesus’ coming into the world to be with us, love us and pay the price for our sins. He wants to meet you newly this Christmas season. May God bless you to accept the one who was to come who came for you this Christmas.

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