Friday 6 September 2013

Matthew 11:1-19 - John the Baptist

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Matthew 11:1-19 is an interesting passage in more ways than one; Jesus says some intriguing things. John the Baptist has some doubts in his mind and wants to know for sure if Jesus is the promised One. It's quite a surprise that he would be unsure after the events of Matthew 3:13-17. Whenever our personal circumstances cause doubts to cross our minds we should remember we are in good company!

Jesus' reply is the same one we need to hear when we doubt - just see what Jesus is doing. He uses the opportunity to probe the hearts of the crowds. What did they expect John to be like? And he tells them that John is more than a prophet.

But although John is truly special, the least in the kingdom is even more special. Are you in the kingdom? If so you are very special.

And when Jesus says, "From the days of John the Baptist", does he mean from the time of Elijah? How is it that "the violent take [the kingdom of heaven] by force"? Is he thinking of John being imprisoned? In verses 16-19, Jesus points out that there's no pleasing people, not eating and drinking is wrong and so is eating and drinking.

In what ways can we be like Jesus? He says he is like the Father (John 14:7, John 14:9) and tells us we are to be sons of the Father too (Matthew 5:44-46).

But in this passage, what words, actions and characteristics of Jesus might we follow? Perhaps we might challenge people by asking them what they expect to see when they go to church. What do they think Jesus is really like? A baby in a manger? A soft and smiling man with long hair and a beard? Someone dying on a cross? Do people really know him? Are we revealing his true nature by what we do and say day by day?

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