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The Scriptorium

Such a Great Prophet

Jesus commends John. And how. Luke 7.18-28

Luke 7 (4)

Pray Psalm 33.13-17.
The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;

He considers all their works.
No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Sing Psalm 33.13-17.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God from His throne looks down on men;
He knows our works and made our hearts.
Let not Your Church, let none depend
on strength or skill or human arts.

Read Luke 7.1-28; meditate on verses 18-28.


1. What did John want to know?

2. What did Jesus say about John?

John probably knew that his days of ministry – and life – were soon to be at an end. Yet faithful disciples attended to him, even as he languished in prison. John needed to make sure these friends were not left without a teacher and guide, so he sent them to Jesus with a specific question: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (v. 20).

Jesus sent them back to John to report all they had seen of His ministry. And what they had seen would be convincing. Can you see John, smiling at his friends, as they shared the report Jesus gave them? Even as they spoke, they would have understood, John had no doubts about Jesus, and the mission he sent his friends on was all about assuring them that Jesus was “the Coming One”.

If John had been expressing doubt, as some suggest, would Jesus have gone on to commend him so powerfully as a prophet and even more than a prophet (vv. 24-28)? I don’t think so. Jesus knew what John was doing, because it was what John had been doing from the moment Jesus showed up and the Jordan River where John was baptizing. Jesus must increase, John knew, and he himself must decrease (Jn. 3.30). This is good counsel for all of us. He was the messenger, the forerunner. Jesus was the Coming One, the Anointed One, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. John simply wanted his followers to be convinced of this, just as he wants us to be convinced as well.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
But what if he did have a fleeting moment of doubt? What if John the Baptist was displaying a touch of humanity? What if maybe he was experiencing fear? What if he knew in his heart that Jesus was, in fact, the Coming One, but he was discouraged at the way things had turned out? “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief” (Prov. 14.13). Life is like that sometimes. And sometimes even godly people experience moments of shaky faith.

I hope, for John’s sake, that instead of feeling doubt, fear, and discouragement, he was merely trying to bravely turn his disciples over to Jesus, and that his purpose in this exercise was to strengthen his disciples’ faith and turn their allegiance to the true Coming One.

Either way, Jesus had John’s back. He defended him to all around by dramatically declaring:
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?”
“But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments?”
“But what did you go out to see? A prophet?”
“Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet” (Lk. 7.24-26).
He is My messenger who prepared the way before Me; and there has never been a greater prophet than John!

Jesus’ intention was to encourage John and his followers, regardless of the reason that they were sent. And He wants to encourage us. He is aware of our frailty, “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103.13). He understands that we may have a bad day or two, but He recommends that we trust Him. Fully. Completely. Constantly. And what if we cannot always accomplish that? He still has our back. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11.28-30).

This One Who wants to give us rest, Who wants us to labor in the Kingdom fields with Him, encouraged John, and encourages us with the Truth about Himself: “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Lk. 7.22, 23).

We are not offended, but amazed at the love and healing power He extends to the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead, and the poor—to us. Whether John was weak or strong does not negate the truth: “Jesus was the Coming One, the Anointed One, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.”

For reflection
1. What has persuaded you that Jesus is “the Coming One”?

2. What should we do when doubts creep into our relationship with the Lord?

3. Why was John so great in Jesus’ eyes?

[Jesus] affirmed that [John] is a prophet, or rather above the measure of the prophets. Christ also says that among those born of women no one had arisen greater than him in the righteousness that is by the law.
Cyril of Alexandria (375-444), Commentary on Luke, Homily 38

Pray Psalm 33.18-22.
Thank the Lord for all those who feared Him in the past, and who have made it possible for the Gospel to come down to us today. Trust in Him to lead and empower you for His service today.

Sing Psalm 33.18-22.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God watches those who fear His Name,
who hope upon His grace and love:
He keeps their souls from death and shame
who trust in Him Who reigns above.

God is our Helper and our Shield;
upon us let Your grace descend!
We hope in You; to You we yield;
we trust in Jesus to the end.

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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