Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who was John the Immerser

Who was John the Immerser

Luke 1:39-45
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

So john knows Jesus In the womb

1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' "[a]
4John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

John was a prophet. Why was he sent?
Why were people coming out to the desert to see him?

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11"I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

What did he expect would happen?
What did he expect Jesus to do?

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

So john endorses Jesus In the again!

John 3
22After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. 24(This was before John was put in prison.) 25An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew[i] over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."
27To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ[j] but am sent ahead of him.' 29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30He must become greater; I must become less.

So john endorses Jesus In the again!

1After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.[a]
2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

What is going on here?
John Knew Jesus in the womb, he endorsed him 3 times...
Why is John Doubting?

So Jesus gives his credentials.

Matthew 11
4Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor

which is a direct reference to:

Luke 4
16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Which is a direct reference to:
Isaiah 61:1,2

But John knew all that... In fact that was the problem.

2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples...

Jesus is not the messiah john expected... He did not come in the political way the Jewish people expected.

Jesus did not fit who they expected the Messiah to be. In fact, most of what Jesus did ran contrary to their view of the Messiah.

The Old Testament Scriptures do contain a multitude of prophecies about this Messiah who will come as ruling, triumphant King and set up his kingdom. And so they of course envisioned a ruling king who destroyed his enemies...

They had been looking forward to a political Messiah, one who would finally, and forcibly free them from conflict with other nations. In Jesus' time the Jews were under domination from the Romans. And many Jews were hoping that Jesus was the Messiah who would overthrow the Roman government and make THEM rulers of the world.

They did what we as humans tend to always do...
They remembered the best of times and forgot the bad parts...
This is the problem with the "good old days" they were not so good.
They remembered the splendor and power of Solomons Kingdom.
But they forgot about the forced labor and amassing of wealth, and the military buildup...

They are trying to make Jesus fit into the mold of their view of who the Messiah is and how he should operate.

But what is this last line all about?

6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Jesus knows what john is expecting...
John knows who Jesus is...
John is hearing about all the things Jesus is doing...
John's disciples must have heard Jesus teaching about the kingdom of God being "at hand"

But Jesus is saying to John, yes I am who you think I am, but I'm not going about things the way you think I should.
or to put it another way
I'm not coming there to bust down the door and rescue you John. And you will be blessed if that doesn't make you loose faith.

See God doesn't always rescue us from bad things...

7As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written: " 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'

Jesus is reminding the people that they went out of the centers of power into the desert. They did not find what they were looking for in the culture they lived in. Herod and the Romans had brought great luxury and shiny new things to Jerusalem, they build new city's and made centers for entertainment. They brought commerce and relative military security (even being on the low end of the totem-pole in the roman empire meant some protection from raiding bands of barbarians).

But Jesus reminds the people that ultimately that doesn't satisfy the deep longing of their souls...

Jesus has come to bring another kind of kingdom...

Final thoughts

Have you ever longed for the good old days in your life?
Have you ever wondered why God allows you to suffer through things?
Have you ever wondered why God allows suffering in our world?