A question; Are You? Or a declaration; This is the Son of God.
Matthew 10:24-11:6 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!
26 “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”
11 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.
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.”
At the end of today’s text we see John the Baptist, who had been imprisoned because of faith and righteousness, sending his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Expected One, the Messiah. In John 1:23-34, earlier in his ministry, John seemed certain who Jesus was: He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” What was it that happened that caused John to change His testimony to a question? Was it his own personal circumstance, the fact that he was in prison, not for doing anything wrong but rather for the sake of righteousness? Was it that so many people failed or refused to recognize Jesus as the Christ? Perhaps he thought that surely when Christ comes everyone will recognize Him. After all, through the prophet Isaiah, God said: There is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. (Isaiah 45:21-23) How was it, how is it that so many people fail to recognize and acknowledge Jesus?
Jesus answered John’s question saying: “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 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. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Still, many were and many are offended by Jesus. In John 14:10-11 Jesus says: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.” We too, like John, might sometimes question why so many fail to recognize Jesus. The circumstances of our own lives might cause us to wonder if perhaps we have missed something. We need to look at the reassurance of the testimony of His works. Even today, Jesus continues to heal and save. We need to hear the assurance of God’s word in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, scripture reveals Christ to all who look for Him. If nothing else, in spite of all that seems uncertain, Jesus Himself assures us saying: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!” Jesus Himself was and is rejected by many. If we are His disciples we should know and expect that we too will be rejected. Jesus says: “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” So great is the division between darkness and light that even members of the same family will be divided. Perhaps that the members of our own household would be our enemies for the sake of Christ is why Jesus says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Surely at least it is easier for us to love and pray for those who are near to us. The sword that Jesus brings is not a sword of death or violence. Rather, it is the sword of truth. Hebrews 4:12 says: The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The sword of Christ judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Jesus says: “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” In John 3:16-21 Jesus says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
So then we should not question or doubt. We should: “Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” We should declare and confess: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!... I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” Amen.