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March 8, 2021 7:00 am
It's been said that the most important thing about a person is what comes to their mind when they think about God. Our entire significance depends on one thing. What do we say about who God is, and specifically what do we believe about Jesus Christ, who claimed to be God. In this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce explains that even John the Baptist had to grapple with this question. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act biblically. Scripture describes John the Baptist is a fascinating character who wore clothes made of camel's hair and eat wild honey. Let's listen in to learn how this role fits into the larger context of the Gospels were returning to our study of Matthew's gospel today. I invite you to turn to the 11th chapter of the point at which we calm as we work through this carefully over the past weeks this year where we begin to study something about John the Baptist. Each of the Gospels indicates that after an initial. All of enthusiasm for Jesus Christ and his teaching opposition began to bill, leading eventually. Of course, to the crucifixion and all of the events that are associated with that mouth. This is a complex. Historically, which is a way of saying there were a lot of different factors at work number of different incidents come to mind to the writers of these Gospels as they try to indicate what was happening during these months and years digging at different points. Luke indicates that the opposition began very early with Jesus preaching at Nazareth, he preached that passage in Isaiah had been fulfilled in him and that people were so offended with that they wanted to drag him out of the city of stone Amber throw them over a cliff to his death.
In Matthew, with slightly different Matthew records the opposition coming from the leaders in connection with Jesus healing of the paralytic and later with his healing of two blind man. The leaders that know how to explain that I didn't want to acknowledge that Jesus had actually come from God. So they began to say he's doing it by supernatural means, but it's the devil's power and not the power of God, while four of the Gospels indicate one major factor that was at work and I was Jesus handling of the Sabbath. Jesus refused to be bound by this legalistic way of looking at that that had been developed by the teachers of the Diane because he was opposing their particular ideas they hated him for it and eventually move the masses to have been killed. Now we find this opposition beginning the development and a formal way. In these two chapters that is chapters 11 and 12 of Matthew holds this together.
You got that incident involving John the Baptist, then you have Jesus teaching about the people of the day and then finally the leaders come in and that 12 chapter there's accusations. Jesus is doing what he is doing, by the power of Satan. What makes these chapters cohere one way of understanding them is to see them as dealing with this profound question growing out of what we have already in the first part of the gospel is Jesus really the king. Remember, that's the way he's been introduced basis is gone, preaching the gospel away preached it was this, he said repent for the kingdom of God is near reason. It was near a parcel because he was which is a way of saying Jesus is the training and so the king is, to set up his kingdom and that has been the message all along but at this point your site is he really the king is it's one thing to say he's an impressive man and they certainly a spellbinding teacher. I got lots of people to come to listen to and sometimes he would preach out of the fields and have 5000 people gathering but is he really the king, are we really take all of this seriously, I what we have in these chapters is three varying assessments of it. First of all, you have the story involving John the Baptist. John the Baptist had come as the forerunner to get even received a sign from heaven to point out that Jesus was the Messiah, the one for whom they have all been waiting but now John has doubts so he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask this question. Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else when you have a second reaction unless the reaction of the masses as the crowds problem wasn't one of doubt.
Their problem was one of indifference to give the proper theological term for it.
Unbelief. Jesus had come proclaiming himself as the king, they simply didn't believe it. Jesus compared them to pouting children wouldn't play a game that was fun and I wouldn't play a game that was sad they didn't want to play anything I had Jesus to came associating with the common people enjoying himself. Yeah John. It was a rather austere profit, but they didn't like either one of them. I did like John's methodology and I did my Jesus methodology because they didn't want to be disturbed from their lifestyle. They didn't want to have to repent of their sin. So Jesus has some very harsh words for them on the third opposition or reaction is that of the leaders in here. You really have an intensifying thing is that you have doubt on the part of John, you have other unbelief on the part of the people. But when you get to the leaders you have entrenched opposition and they're going to try to kill them if they can. This is where we find it for the first time in verse 14. They begin to plot it says how they might kill him now in these chapters, Jesus deals with each of these various approaches to himself in different ways, appropriate ways in each. Perhaps it's important also to say that there is one thing that happens it comes out of these chapters, which indicates a major redirection of his ministry up to this point he been teaching everyone what we find is that as a result of the kind of things that are happening now. He redirects what he does is major teaching.
Now this point on is no longer given to the people at large the masses to address are indifferent and who refused to believe, but he gives his teaching.
More specifically, to his disciples because they're the ones that are believing it's in their lives that God is working and they're the ones that are going to carry on the ministry after he's gone.
So he begins to instruct them more fully and further he begins to shift the kind of teaching that he does where the people are concerned that we find them doing is shifting the parables which he explains says stories that have deep hidden meaning but the meaning is hidden to be revealed to the lax and to stay hidden for those who are unwilling to receive it so significantly.
Chapters 11 and 12 are followed by chapter 13 the parables of Jesus for which he so famous are introduced for the very first time on the many parables in any of the teaching. Up to that point we stress with John the Baptist. Unless someone were going to look at today. There's a link to the previous verses you read it carefully. It might notice that's in the chapter preceding this chapter 10 verse 41 Jesus talks about receiving a profit because he is a prophet is what John is. So there's a natural time and this time in two ways of God really is a prophet, and the people generally regarded them as one and they should believe what the prophet was saying on the prophet was pointing to Jesus. I should've believed in Jesus.
So that's an important connection but there's a second connection as well. Not only did the people need to believe in Jesus. John, the prophet needed to believe in Jesus to let something that applies to preachers today.
It's one thing to preach the word teacher to do it clearly, but the preacher has to believe it is well so if we say to people who were there to have the Bible explain this is what it means. And this is what you should do we have to do it to because we're together in this and that's what Jesus was saying to John was an old interpretation of these verses says that John couldn't really have been in doubt because after all he was the forerunner is the one God called to point to Jesus Christ and is an conceivable person who had been called to that particular ministry could doubt it. This particular view says that what really is involved. There is a question asked but for John's own benefit, but for the benefit of his disciples, we might tend to dismiss that. But if you look back in the history of the church, you find that such distinguishing teachers as John Chrysostom very early church, and St. Augustine the greatest theologian of the Middle Ages thought that go to the Reformation times about Martin Luther, John Calvin, Theodore Baeza and if you go to more modern times.
John Charles while a great Anglican bishop suggested that while said the question did not arise from doubt and unbelief on the part of John was asked for the benefit of the disciples well the way to handle much snow as you read Matthew 11 say that it was the disciples question is was John's question actually fits the pattern because the question here were being asked is, is Jesus really the Messiah and it's entirely understandable that John, the forerunner should be asking every character in the Bible as his or her weak moments you think of Abraham, the great patriarch or Moses or David or anybody else. It's not surprising John Jeanette's doubts to say will, why should John have his doubts suggest several reasons. First of all, he was in prison.
That means is that he was cut off from the work that he been doing great vigorous boldness dear Les matin, then the struggle when they're cut off from the action and it wouldn't be surprising if that happened to John Josephus, who writes about John and his antiquities tells us that Herod had imprisoned them in the fortress of Marquess modern name of the place is cured with a collar. It's about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea ever been down in that area you realize how desolate, barren, hot and miserable.
It must've been so here is John shut up away from the action with access to his disciples apparently but unable to do much about what was happening outside. We can understand how a man might discourage and have doubts of the time like that, and secondly must been drained emotionally been on the forefront of the battle. It's hard not to compare them with a Y gently resembles in many ways Elijah had priest fearlessly denouncing the sins of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Just as John had been denouncing the sins of Herod and his Paramore Herodias, but in the earlier story. Elijah was drained. It's not surprising to find John might be drained as well and having said that, having talked about the fact that he's isolated in the prison, then the fact that he probably was emotionally drained. I think we really haven't gotten to the reason yet because John wasn't any fool really wasn't any weakling he may have been drained, but it was still a strong man and I think his problem was a Jesus was not fulfilling or living up to what John had prophesied about one of the things that John had said is that the Messiah, whom he had come to announce the appointed Jesus as the Messiah is one I was going to exercise a judgment upon the sin and wickedness of his day. Matthew 312 he said this is winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor gathering as we do in the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. That's what the Messiah was supposed to do as written down in the Bible and read in the Bible that's the case why wasn't Jesus doing others.
No doubt he was doing many good things presumably by the power of the Holy Spirit was healing the sick and preaching the good news of all of that but it wasn't exercising judgment as a way DA Carson questions which it was all right to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons still storms preach righteousness and announce the kingdom.
Where was the judgment that the corruptions and cruelties of Caesar been abruptly shut down at the hypocritical temple leaders been banished had the distinguished disgusting corruptions of Herod Oedipus been confronted.
Why was he John the Baptist languishing in the stifling heat of the prison or chaos fortress for challenging the morals of Herod.
While Jesus, the alleged Messiah did nothing about the injustice.
As far as John could see world was as wicked man as it had been even before he had announce the coming of Jesus Christ was a valid objection something to be taken lightly. The Jews today tell the story about a rabbi in New York City. It was being witness to by a Christian. Christian was in his office pointing out the Jesus that was the Messiah and the story goes like this rabbi got up from his desk. He walked over to the window. We looked out on the streets of New York City, with all their continuing wickedness and corruption when he walked back to his desk slowly shaking his head saying no no when the Messiah comes, there will be justice, not a bad question so we asked the question now. How does Jesus answer John well we notice that he doesn't condemn him for his doubt. That's very important because it's natural to doubt and doubt is not unbelief. Doubt is actually holding between two opinions always get us a noted writer wrote a book a number of years ago about doubt called into minds, which is exactly at the one hand, we are inclined to believe on the other hand where inclined not to believe, and so it's sort of a middle ground. I would point out is that that's very natural for human beings we don't want to go on and doubt where we can be certain. Some people capitalize on doubt malevolently don't want to do that, but it's natural to have doubts simply because were not omniscient see the whole picture. We don't know the end from the beginning.
Anybody who thinks they have absolute certainty in all things at all times probably very foolish. The only people who really know what you should do a very difficult situations are those who don't understand the situation and that's quite understandable.
As I said the John should have doubts.
So what does Jesus do you see some people have doubts use doubt as an excuse for unbelief. I say well I have doubts that really means I'm smarter than anybody else because anybody doesn't have doubts are stupid and I'm really bright because I have doubts while doubts are only a point at which you get started John to do then is begin to investigate the evidence and that's exactly what Jesus encourages John to do. Jesus points into the Bible say only one place you ever get any knowledge about spiritual things is from the Bible and if you have doubts way to solve the doubts is not to abandon the Bible and begin to study philosophy, or something else to get back in and start studying the Bible. So Jesus points them to these great Old Testament texts now this answer in verses five and six is presented as a specific quotation from the Old Testament, but that's what it was all these phrases come from Isaiah, most notably Isaiah 35 verses five and six Isaiah 61 verses one and two possible allusions to Isaiah 2619 29, 18 and 19. And so for all those text.
The best known as the one in chapter 61 because that's the passage Jesus quoted from explicitly in that synagogue at Nazareth. What Jesus read was this spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
All of those passages that one that I just read as well is the verses in chapter 35 and 19 and 29 all of them all speak of physical miracles that are being done by the Messiah, like giving sight to the blind hearing to the death movement to those were paralyzed and so forth are all explicitly messianic texts.
Here's the interesting thing in each case, every one of those text after it describes this work of physical healing. It goes on to speak specifically about messianic judgment very thing. John is been proclaiming and Jesus apparently leaves out was most notable in the case of Nazareth, where after having read the words I just read to go to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. The text goes on to say, on the day of the vengeance of our God. Jesus stops doesn't read it.
Question is why did he leave it out. Answer is the obvious one. It just wasn't the object of his ministry at the present time judgment would, he is going to fulfill it. One day he is sitting upon the judgment throne of the universe to judge every human being that is ever live, but that is not the time yet. Or to put it. In other words, today is the day of God's favor.
Today is the day of God's grace and we had better be glad it is because his grace that we need not judgment one judgment you get judgment and judgment will condemn you will be your destruction what you need is grace and grace is what Jesus came to bring this is the point of Jesus's last words to John a blessing which was a warning at the same time find them in verse six it says blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me what those words are saying is this John made a good start but like everybody else.
He had to keep under the end of the things he wasn't going understand about Jesus and about what Jesus is doing. We don't understand them. Yet even though we look back on the lifetime with centuries of careful Bible study between us and those events.
John had to keep on and so do we. We have to keep witnessing for Jesus Christ until he comes again the first movement of this passage the disciples of John of come with John's question Jesus's answer to directing his words to John, the disciples take that message and they go back to tell her master now left behind. Jesus turns to the crowds and he has a word to them about John what he does is praise him as a prophet, which is what they had gone out into the desert to see and got out to see a man dressed in fine clothes or anything like that. They understood John was a prophet.
That's what they had gone out to see and hear Jesus begins to add that he says yes a prophet that's truly wise, but he adds an even more than a prophet. Why because John not only prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ. He was himself the fulfillment of prophecy because some of those passages in the Old Testament spoke of the forerunner, who would come ahead of Jesus Christ to announce his appearance and John was that one Jesus quotes Malachi 3 verse one as the passage that's fulfilled only changes of slightly to make it sound like an address of God the father directly to himself. I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way before you. That's what made John so special that he had not only the privilege of talking about the one who should calm but actually pointing to the one who would come because he was there in the fulfillment of that role must've been an astonishing thing for the people to hear because when Jesus says that he was greater all the prophets, that is, everyone who would come before it was saying that Jesus was greater than Abraham and greater than Moses is greater than David and greater than Isaiah greater than Jeremiah all the others and the people must have been astonished at that thinking has as a prophet, and our day who was actually greater than these great fathers of our people and having said that, Jesus goes on to say something even more startling because he says that those who have come in this day are greater even than John and here's a way says in verse 11, he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he least significant person in the kingdom of heaven be greater than John the Baptist, who was the greatest of all the Old Testament figures. Once again, the answer is obvious for the same reason John is great God. John was great because he was able to see Jesus a point to him as were least in the kingdom of heaven are greater even than John because we can do that job even better than John could go to see John lived and died on the far side of the cross of Jesus Christ without knowing actually actually what Jesus did, we look back and we can see how Jesus died for our sin and rose again on the third day and were able to preach that better and teach it and share it even better than John himself to understand what a great privilege that is Jesus speaking to you if you're a believer in Jesus Christ. At this point is your greater than John the Baptist because you have this opportunity of witnessing. I think if we understood that how great we are in the sight of God because of the opportunity we have we be more diligent in doing. We get out there to tell others about Christ that they might come. Have faith in him, but I want to say one thing is because of the opportunity we have not because of who we are.
Jesus doesn't say those who come in the kingdom of heaven are going to be greater than John because I'm going to give them greater gifts there going to be eloquent and they're going to be brilliance there going to be able to accomplish great things because all these talents but I'm going to impart to them by my Holy Spirit doesn't say that of all talks about the least insignificant, the poor, just as Paul did when he was writing to the Corinthians, and said it's not bonobo it's not mighty it's not the rich but it's the weak things of the world. The things that are not that God uses to bring about the things that are here's what one commentator says so often Christians want to establish their greatness with reference to their work there giving their intelligence or preaching their gifts and encouragement their discernment. Jesus unhesitatingly affirmed that even the least believer is greater than Moses or John the Baptist simply because of his or her ability living on this side of the coming of Jesus the Messiah to point them out with greater clarity and understanding them all. His forerunners ever could have. We really believe this truth that will dissipate all cheap buying for position and force us to recognize that our true significant lies in our witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, there are some questions about a few of these verses. How about verse 12 talks about kingdom, forcefully advancing that can be taken in two ways that we pointed out that can be rendered either has been forcefully advancing or is being attacked. People who don't like the idea of force associated with the kingdom not understanding the difference between spiritual power and physical power reject the idea force, saying, well, it has to do with the kingdom being attacked, but the translation forcefully advancing as appropriate to the context is actually chosen by the majority of the translators and for this reason, that is exactly the way the kingdom of God has been advancing in the early chapters of the gospel. Jesus had been coming in power driving out demons and unbelief in bringing people to faith that's forcefully advancing and as for forceful men laying hold of the kingdom. That's exactly what's required of the words.
It's a way of saying that the disciples of Jesus must not be likely in the site so that would be disciples of Matthew eight, but they must be bold, resolute, forceful and determined. Instead, we've already had one example of how this works will begin to see more of it as we go on because in the 13th chapter of those parables are referred to earlier.
Jesus is going to show how those who value the kingdom are going to do everything possible to possess it, even to the point of selling everything I have one more question. Verse 14 what about John being Elijah. Jesus says if you're willing to accept it is not a very great problem old Jesus is really saying is that he fulfill that role.
Not that is literally Elijah is made clear in another text, but the could be could be considered Elijah because he is the forerunner Matthew says the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist point of this is that accepting the Baptist as Elijah would mean accepting the Baptist is the forerunner and accepting the Baptist is the forerunner would mean accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
John the Baptist came to identify and point out the course. That's exactly what the people wouldn't do now, having spoken a word for John to the disciples who were go back and reported to John in person and having spoken to the people about John how great he was. Jesus the great preacher now begins to apply all of this by speaking to the crowd directly here.
He applies these words in a powerful way. What he says is that you recognize that John was a prophet and his wife, a prophetess, you recognize strong as a righteous man. He was a righteous man, a righteous man is common. I have come as well. The problem with you speaking of the people is that you will receive neither the reason that is true is because you prefer your own errors to the truth in your own wicked ways to righteousness is an analogy of the analogy of children were playing, pouting children who won't play any particular game. I can be taken in different ways you can say that one group represents Jesus and played the flute. The other group represents John Hussein, a dirge that makes a nice analogy, but it would suggest that it puts the disciples of Jesus over against the disciples of John, in opposition but doesn't seem to be so good. What Jesus seems to be saying here instead is that you got these children out there and it doesn't make any difference what you offer them you can come playing a happy tune and I don't like that you can come playing a dirge and I don't like that either doesn't make such a neat analogy, but that is the drift of the passage, Jesus would come one way John did, mother, and they didn't like either. He says it in verses 18 and 19. John came neither eating or drinking, and they say has a demon, the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
What I need to say is that it is no different today exactly the same when the gospel is preached today God sends many messengers and he sends them with many varying gaps. Some are powerful speakers who can easily move the crowd by the eloquence of their words, others are intellectual. I make a careful case for Christianity, they present many powerful proofs of the gospel. Some teachers are outgoing or talkative their people oriented.
Others are retiring and thoughtful. Some right books. Others lead movements. Still others speak on radio or they appear on television. Some are old and they speak with the wisdom of their years. Some are young and they speak with all of the enthusiasm of the youthful vitality. Some are prophetic, some are analytic none of this makes any difference to a generation that says all I don't like him. He's too loud and I don't like Kim is too soft and I don't like him is to intellectual and I don't like him. He's to superficial problem isn't the messengers.
The problem is in the hearts of the hearers. That's what we do today we come playing the thin people won't dance we come singing a dirge as we speak about sin and judgment, and people won't mourn for their transgressions. What are we to do with the generation like that that happen in your case if you're rejecting Jesus Christ as your Savior.
It's not because the gospel hasn't been taught or there haven't been many adequate people to explain that the defendant, on the basis of the teaching of the historical evidences the problem is that you don't want to abandon your sin and commit yourself to Christ. You can excuse yourself by pretending that your wise because if you think your wise at the very point of rejecting Jesus Christ the Savior. Actually, the greatest of fools. The only wise course for any man or woman is to repent of the seven and throw oneself wholly upon Jesus Christ, who alone is the Savior. Jesus says that in the very last word since the proverb he says wisdom is proved right by her actions. Your wives shall act rightly the only right course of action is to trust Christ and spread her father were thankful for the opportunity we've had the day to study this important passage of the Bible we marvel at how relevant it is that was written of a bygone day thousands of years ago. It describes exactly what people are like today all of us see ourselves there in one way or another. Some John the Baptist who had doubts. Some of the people who are in different some who complain we didn't hear it presented in exactly the way we would've preferred and who, if they had had it that way wouldn't like that either father.
The problem is and in the proclamation.
The problem is in sin that sin is in us.
So what we ask his forgiveness for it. And grace in order that we might be led out of that sin, mediating it, turning her back on it entirely. In order we might rest on Jesus Christ alone. Thank you for the power.
Does that even the power of the Holy Spirit you are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.
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