(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)
It has been three weeks since I have even considered sitting down and writing my normal guest post on “The New Normal”. During that time I have faced spiritual warfare that could best be described as masterful. Yet, once again, through the grace of God and tempered perseverance the onslaught has been overthrown and direction has been re-established. As I read this portion of the book of Luke I once again realize that the spiritual attacks we are subjected to as believers in Christ in the United States are nothing compared to the attacks that were faced by the early followers of John and Jesus. The Christians that probably have the closest relationship to those first apostles are the Christians in the Middle East who find themselves under the brutal attacks of the terrorist group ISIS.
IN verses 8-35 we see followers of John the Baptist (who is most likely imprisoned at this point) going to inquire of Jesus as to whether He is the Messiah. Assuming this follows Christ’s baptism, which it most likely does, we know that John witnessed the events surrounding Christ’s baptism so why is he seeking to re-verify Christ’s identity as the Messiah? I will get to that in a moment.
So Christ is asked whether He is the Messiah and instead of answering directly He allows John’s followers to accompany Him as He works amazing miracles: healing people of diseases, ridding people of evil spirits, restoring sight to the blind, and uplifting the poor and persecuted with His message of “good news”. With that John’s messengers leave Christ, appearing to return to John and confirm His identity as Christ.
What follows John’s messenger’s departure is a general discourse about John himself through which Christ confirms that John is the one referred to in Scripture as the one who will go and prepare the way for Christ: a direct reference to Malachi 3:1. IN this discourse Christ also differentiates their ministries; John in his sober solitude and Christ in His willingness to associate with anyone. Through this differentiation Christ also establishes the futility of both their ministries at reaching the ones who should have been the most aware of His identity: the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
So back to why John sent messengers to confirm that Jesus was the Messiah. I believe it was doubt. Doubt brought about by the spiritual warfare that I am confident John faced throughout his ministry and that probably haunted him as he sat in prison now. I believe that John knew he was on death’s door and he wanted confirmation that his task had been completed. I remark at the peace John must have felt knowing that he had fulfilled prophecy and heralded the coming of the Messiah!
We are called by Christ to go and spread the “good news” to all people. We are to herald Christ’s message of redemption and salvation. We are to do so with such urgency because we look forward to Christ’s return. In this way are we not all supposed to be modern day John the Baptists heralding the coming of the Savior of all mankind?
Christ sets a good example for each of us, as does John. They were both extremely counter-cultural. They were not mainstream in their thought processes or their actions. They went forward with a message on faith that God would protect and provide. They endured hardships yet persevered until death in their faith in God. Christ humbled Himself to dwell with man and John humbled himself to follow God. Through Christ the greatest (God) became the least (man) and earned the right to sit in judgment of us all. Though John the greatest (a servant of God) became the least (despised and outcast) and had the privilege of heralding the Christ.
My question to you today is are you willing to humble yourself, to take on the image of Christ and become the least, in order to further His kingdom? It all begins with faith. Not the simple “I believe in God” sort of faith but instead the “drop everything and devote your being to God” sort of faith. I know I let the world keep me from this unabashed, relentless, and dangerous faith. But I thank God for His grace to allow me to keep trying!