Tag Archives: John the Baptist

Jonah; Matthew 11

Matthew 11 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture.

2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” (Matthew 11:2-6 [NASB]

John the Baptist was sitting in prison for doing what was morally right. He called out sin and was placed in jail for it and soon would be executed. In his mind it wasn’t turning out the way he expected. He didn’t see himself rotting away in some jail, but serving God. What a huge difference between the crowds that came to see him preach and now sitting in jail his life wasting away.

So he sends his men to Jesus to see if he is the real Messiah or whether they should wait for another. Jesus replies to their questions by reporting what he is doing. And then he shares with the crowd what an awesome person John the Baptist was. He didn’t scold him or deride him. Jesus praises his cousin John.

Later in the chapter he talks about the the Kingdom of God and he puts it this way (paraphrased), The Kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing and forceful men and woman take hold of it. In other words the Kingdom of God is not for sissies. It is moving forward to strong people take hold of it and help move it forward. People like John the Baptist.

Soon John would lose his head. Although the church had not been born yet, John epitomizes this watchword of the church. The Church advances on the blood of Her martyrs.

I guess the question this morning to you is, Are you ready for the challenge. Will you join the men and women through the ages who have been forceful enough and even brave enough to give their lives in seeing the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

 

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Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3

Sin. Judgement. Repentance.  Those are Biblical themes I generally want to avoid. My husband and I recently drove through the deep South where it wasn’t unusual to see signs saying, “Repent! The End is near” or “Jesus Saves!” My tendency is to be a bit smug and think of those signs as being unsophisticated, but the fact of the matter is that both signs are biblical.

Noah lived in a world so corrupt and sinful that it was as good as living with the walking dead. God was so grieved by what He saw that he preserved  Noah and his family and sent the Flood to cleanse the broken world. The question that I ask myself is if I really believe that my sin is as odious as the sins of Noah’s neighbors. Do I try to rely on my “goodness” and see myself as better?

I can see myself with the band of Pharisees and Sadducees who traveled out to the desert to see the rustic John the Baptist. They probably considered him a half mad curiosity. John immediately saw them for who they were, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to  flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance…”

What John said to them, to me, is a warning and a gift; don’t consider my sin as inconsequential and nothing short of horrific. Enjoy the cleansing baptism of sincere repentance and forgiveness. Just as the priests cleansed themselves before serving in the Temple and awaited God’s presence in that physical space, my repentance prepares the way for Jesus to cleanse me from my sins. The difference is that now, the Holy Spirit comes and lives in me, not in some building. May I never forget who now lives, moves and breathes within me and at what cost. These aren’t just empty words that are supposed to make me feel better; they are reality.

Lord, I want to live in the truth.  I ask that you keep this heart of mine from being arrogant. May I understand the ugliness of my sin and turn from it so that I humbly and gratefully receive the wonder of your grace and presence. Thank you for never leaving. Amen.

Kathy

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Gen. 47; Lk. 1:1-38; Job 13; I Cor. 1

Belief and unbelief.

Joseph trusted in God. His brothers trusted in their own plans (their plot to be rid of a little brother–good thing for them that God had other plans!).

Job was grappling with faith in the midst of an unimaginable hardship. His friends were at work to find his human flaws to justify punishment.

Zechariah asked a question of the messenger–Mary did too!–but what was at work on a heart level differentiated them. One, who was perhaps doubtful. The other, seeking.

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:1:38 NLT.

Paul talks about God using the least expected to confound the wise–and it’s splayed across chapters: a brother sold into slavery who becomes a leader … a wealthy man who loses everything in moments … a virgin girl and a barren, old woman to both conceive children who would change everything … and even Paul, hater turned lover of Christ.

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT.

Overall, a message of being chosen, and a reminder that nothing is impossible with God.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Genesis 35&36; Mark 6; Job 2; Romans 6

Scripture:

Mark 6:14King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (ESV)

Observation:

This is one of the saddest stories of the New Testament. John the Baptist was put in prison for speaking the truth about Herod’s personal life. In fact John was languishing in his prison cell to the point where he doubted his calling. In Matthew 11 we read that he sent his disciples to Jesus to inquire whether he was the real one or whether they were to wait for another. He was the one who leapt for joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice who was in jail and eventually gave his live because of a drunken party promise. A life that had been likened to that of Elijah coming to an end because a beautiful woman danced in an enticing manner before her step father. It would be a promise that Herod would regret the rest of his life.

Application:

How do we make sense of this story? I’m not sure we can. There are times when the overwhelming evil of this world overshadows the good and the pure that comes from people of God. Although there are dark hours for us and endings that don’t seem right God is always in control. John had done his best in God’s Kingdom. He had prepared the way for the Messiah. And in the end Herod died an awful agonizing death that makes losing one’s head seem easy. When we are in our darkest moments we need to remember that our stories are not over. God is still working in and through us to complete His story. What’s your story? Where is it playing out God’s story today?

Prayer:

Father God thank you that you are still telling your story through us. Even if we are in dark circumstances your story carries us along to glorious conclusions. Give us that hope and vision today. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen!

dmbaldwin

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Psalms 24,25,26; John 10:22-42

David had an awesome relationship with God. I spent some time meditating on Psalm 25 today. It is a beautiful picture of childlike trust and admiration of a loving Father by a trusting child.

8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

Fast forward to Jesus’ day.  In John 9 we read about Jesus’ healing of a man that was born blind. The Pharisees just did not want this to be true.  They tried desperately to spin this some other way than the miracle it plainly was. The healed man says that if Jesus was not from God then he couldn’t have done this miracle. To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. The Pharisees were not humble, for sure. No guidance for them, I’m afraid.

So Jesus moves along and he gets to Jerusalem. The Holy City. Teaming with learned Pharisees. In John 10 we read:

22 Then came the Feast of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple

area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ,[c] tell us plainly.”25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

These Jews did not want to hear any of this.  Jesus was claiming to be God and they did not want to hear that. They try to stone him but Jesus escapes. It was not yet his time. The story continues:

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

One thing that stood out to me as I read this was the contrast between what happened in Jerusalem and what happened in the area where John was baptizing. John the Baptist’s mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. He preached repentance. Repentance requires us to admit that we have gone astray, we are wrong, and we desire to be made right. Repentance requires humility. The people that were prepared by John and his ministry were able to hear Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The Jews in Jerusalem, the learned ones that thought they knew everything, the ones that were at the top of the heap and did not want to give that up, were spiritually blind and deaf. The blind man was able to see, but the Pharisees were blind to the Truth.

Lord, sometimes I know that my biggest sin is the sin of pride. I pray that I can humble myself and repent so that I can tune into your voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd. I know that this is an ongoing journey, from day to day, from pasture to pasture, until you lead me to my final home.

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