Luke 7:27-28 Behold, I Send My Messenger 10/21/2001
#1. John (John 1:31, Luke 7:27)
#2. Jesus (Luke 7:29-30)
#3. God Wanted It That Way (Isa 46:9-10, 55:11, 48:9-11)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 7. Beginning at verse 24 the Lord Jesus gave a glowing report of John the Baptist. When I preached on the preceding verses, verses 18-23, I mentioned that John the Baptist was rotting away in prison. Then John sent two of his disciples to Jesus, because John began to doubt whether Jesus was the Messiah who was to come.
After the disciples of John had left, Jesus spoke to the multitude about John, and Jesus said:
Let us begin to read at verse 24,
Luke 7:24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
Luke 7:25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
Luke 7:26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
Did you notice that Jesus spoke to the multitude three times: "What went ye out for to see?" The first time that Jesus said this, he asked: "Did you go out into the wilderness to see a reed shaken by the wind?" Of course they did not do that. That would be a silly thing to do. But the Lord Jesus chose His words carefully. He asked: "Did you go out to see a reed shaken by the wind?" Everyone knew what Jesus meant, because John the Baptist was exactly the opposite of a reed shaken by the wind.
John was a powerful preacher who stood firm as a rock and remained faithful to God, in a nation that was humiliated because they were overrun by the Roman Empire. Added to their shame, the Jews were ruled over by puppet kings who were descendants of Esau. Add to this that their religious establishment was ruled over by an immoral family, headed by Annas and Caiaphas as the high priests. And add to this that the scribes and Pharisees were teaching the people a salvation of works.
John the Baptist was exactly the opposite of a reed shaken by the wind. The second time Jesus said: "What went ye out for to see?" He asked: "Did you go out to see a man clothed in soft raiment?" Of course they did not do that. It would be silly to go into the wilderness to see a man clothed in soft raiment. If you wanted to see gorgeous apparel you would go to the king's court. Here again, the people knew exactly what Jesus meant, because John's appearance was exactly the opposite of gorgeous apparel. John was clothed like Elijah. John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins. John did not ask for a handout; John took care of himself in the wilderness. He fed himself with locusts and wild honey. That was John:
#1. John (John 1:31, Luke 7:27)
John had an extraordinary appearance, and John was an extraordinary preacher. The third time that Jesus said: "What went ye out for to see?" He asked: "Did you go out into the wilderness to see a prophet? Yes. Everyone agreed. They went out to see the prophet John the Baptizer. Then Jesus continued and said: "Yea, I say unto you, and he is much more than a prophet". Now, we know from Luke chapter 1, that John was also a descendant of Aaron, the first high priest. John's father was Zacharias, the priest, married to Elizabeth, who in her old age miraculously conceived and gave birth to John the Baptizer. But John was more than just a miracle child.
John had received a message from God that he must be "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God". The nation of Israel was spiritually a desert. John's task was to prepare for the coming of Messiah by preaching for people to repent of their sins. The main message of John was: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Through this preaching John spiritually prepared a highway in the desert, by preparing the people for their coming Messiah. This was the message that God wanted to be preached, because after John was put in prison Jesus preached: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Therefore, this is also the message that we must preach to the world. There is nothing wrong with the message of repentance. Nobody can get saved without repentance.
John also received a message from God that he must point out the Messiah. We read in the Gospel according to John, in chapter 1, verse 31, the words of John the Baptizer. John said:
John 1:31, And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
So John pointed out Jesus, and immediately two of his disciples became disciples of Jesus. What is the message here for us? When we share the Gospel with someone, we should bring the message of repentance, because there is Hell to pay. But our message is not complete until we have pointed out Jesus. Like John, we must tell the world that Jesus is the One in whom the Spirit of God is. In fact, Jesus is God. Like John, we must tell the world that Jesus is the One who baptizes us, or washes our sins, with the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus washed our sins on the cross, and He applies that action to our soul when He gives us a new soul through the action of God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, John the Baptizer is a picture of each one of us, who are commanded by God to share the Gospel.
But John the Baptizer was a special messenger of God. Jesus said in Luke 7:27,
Luke 7:27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
When Jesus said: "This is of whom it is written", we must go and see where these words were written.
Hold one finger in the Gospel of Luke, and please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Malachi, chapter 3. You find it just before Matthew. Malachi is the last Scroll of the O.T.
The name Malachi means "My Messenger". Some people think that Malachi is the same person as Ezra. Actually, it is not important that we can point out historically who Malachi was. The important thing is that the Words of God through Malachi were recorded here for us.
The Lord Jesus quoted from Malachi, chapter 3, verse 1, where we read:
Malachi 3:1 ¶ Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
Jesus said that John was this special messenger, who would prepare the way before Jesus. Was John giving God a helping hand? No! God gave the message to John, and God gave John the grace to bring that message in a powerful way, and God inclined the hearts of the people to come and listen to John, so that multitudes of people heard the preaching of John. Like you heard me preach last week: It is God who gives the increase of the congregation.
Then God continued in Mal 3:1, saying: "the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple". After the preaching of John the Baptizer the Lord Jesus came suddenly into the spotlight. He came to the temple and drove the moneychangers out of the temple, and He drove out those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and He drove out the animals as well. Now that action really put Jesus in the spotlight. Immediately the religious rulers of the Jews hated him. But to those who delight in Him He is called "The Messenger of the Covenant".
In the Gospel of Matthew the Lord Jesus said that the closing verses of Malachi 4 also apply to John the Baptizer. If you turn to Mal 4:5-6, we read there:
Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
God would not reincarnate Elijah. God would not give Elijah another chance to be heard by the Jews. God would not give Elijah another opportunity to be killed by the religious establishment. No! That would be totally unfair to Elijah. But John the Baptizer came in the spirit and power of Elijah. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 11:14 that John was the fulfillment of the prophesy of Elijah's coming in Malachi 4:5. And John came before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. That day was Friday, April 3, in the year 33AD, when the Lord Jesus suffered and died on the cross at Calvary. That was a dreadful day for the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was a great day for us. There our sins were washed from the Lord Jesus; because He paid the full payment for the sins He bore.
Then, in the following verse, Mal 4:6, God prophesied what John's message of repentance did for the people who gladly listened to John's preaching. Please turn again to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7, where Jesus continued His glowing report of John the Baptizer. Jesus said:
John was the last of the O.T. prophets. Jesus death on the cross at Calvary was the moment of separation between the O.T. and the N.T. From that day on no more blood sacrifices could be offered to God. From that day on the entire Ceremonial Law ceased to exist, because everything in the Ceremonial Law was pointing forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. From that day on God committed Himself to save those people for whom Christ had died, and give them faith.
The Lord Jesus said in Luke 7:28,
Luke 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
What is this? Who are least in the Kingdom of God? But first, let us set our eyes once more on John the Baptizer. What did Jesus mean when He said that: "there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist". In what sense is John greater than all the prophets who came before him? Was John greater than Abraham, who was called the father of all believers? Was John greater than Moses, to whom God spoke face to face? Was John greater than king David, whom God called "a man after His own heart"? Was John greater than Enoch or Elijah, who had the privilege of being taken to heaven without having to die first? Was John greater than Daniel, of whom not a single sin is recorded in the Bible? We know that John was not without sin. When John was in prison, he began to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah, even though he personally saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus and he heard the Father speak from heaven. John's doubt was uncalled for.
You can see from these examples that John was not called the greatest, because he was the greatest in personal character, neither was he called the greatest because he excelled every human being that preceded him. Jesus called John the greatest prophet, because of his standing in the O.T. economy of God's plan. John was the last of the O.T. prophets, and so John had the greatest understanding of his position to the Savior. John understood that the Lord Jesus had to atone for his sins, because he told his disciples: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
But now, who is least in the Kingdom of God? Do not all believers receive the same reward of eternal life with God? Are we not all called sons of God? And is this not a free gift of God that is bestowed on us totally by grace, and is not based on anything that we do? Therefore, the label of being least in the Kingdom of God cannot be tagged to someone who has not advanced much in the knowledge of the Word of God, or someone who has not done many good works.
But read Jesus words carefully. He said: "Among those that are born of women, John is the greatest". Contrast this with the other group of individuals, which are those that are in the Kingdom of God, but not necessarily born of women. Are angels greater in position than man? No! God says in:
Hebrews 1:14, Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
God says that all angels are the servants of those whom God elected to be sons of God. Therefore the angels are least in the Kingdom of heaven. But any angel in heaven is greater than the most holy human being on earth, since on earth all our works are tainted with sin.
Now let us turn our eyes on Jesus.
#2. Jesus (Luke 7:29-30)
Like John, Jesus always drew large crowds. That was an amazing fact, because Jesus always spoke in parables, and His parables were not easy to understand. But the common people gladly heard Him, because Jesus gave them hope, whereas the Pharisees condemned them. We read in:
Luke 7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
The common people and the publicans that heard the words of Jesus concerning John rejoiced, because they had listened to John, and were convicted of their sins, and were baptized by John. John was their hero and they praised God for him. They called God just and righteous for all that He did and does for bringing John in their life.
On the other hand, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected John's preaching, because John's preaching went against the religion that the Pharisees and lawyers taught the people. John was not gentle with the people. John called them a brood of vipers who needed to repent of their sins, or else there was Hell to pay. On the other hand, the Pharisees and lawyers taught the people that they could attain righteousness, to be right with God, by the works of the law. In the eyes of the Pharisees, those who had sunk too deep in sin were beyond redemption. But these were the people who had flocked to the preaching of John, and these were the people that gathered around Jesus, because Jesus gave them hope. Jesus taught them that there is NONE righteous, no not one. Therefore all people are in need of salvation. In fact, "if there had been a law given which could have given life, then righteousness should have been by the law", and Jesus would not have to come to earth to die on a cross. Therefore, the Pharisees and the lawyers had no need for Jesus; they thought that they could help themselves. Therefore, when Jesus spoke in the following verses about "this generation", Jesus was not speaking of those who believed on Him, but of those that rejected Him. He spoke of:
The Lord Jesus spoke in verses 31 and 32:
Luke 7:31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? And to what are they like?
Luke 7:32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
The men of this generation does not refer to the generation of Jews who rejected Him about 2000 years ago. There have been many generations of people, including Jews, who rejected Him. This generation of Jews, 2000 years ago, was not more wicked than any other generation. What characterized them, and what characterizes today's generation, is that they have no need for Jesus, and they have no need for repentance. And why is that so?
Let us see the explanation that Jesus gave for the evil generation of His day. Jesus said: "They are like children sitting in the marketplace". Jesus is not saying that they are childlike, but that they are childish, and they are occupying the marketplace when there is no business conducted.
They are saying: "We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept." What is the principle that Jesus unfolds here? Both John and Jesus were sent by God to preach a serious message to the people of this world, that they have provoked the anger of God and that they are in danger of sliding into Hell. This is serious business. But this evil generation did not want to hear that. Not only did they prefer to play their own childish games, but also they expected John and Jesus to conform to their games, instead of listening to the serious business that God sent them for. What was important to that generation is still important to the present generation: "Don't give me this heavy stuff of Hell and damnation. Don't talk to me about the righteousness of God and the wrath of God. Talk to me about a loving God, and a forgiving God, and a glorious heaven where we will all see each other again. Talk to me about the goodness of man, and about special rewards we receive in the life hereafter for the good things we have done on this earth."
You see, what this evil generation wants is a god who conforms to their own tastes and preferences. They want a god to their own liking. What this evil generation wants is a messenger from this god who plays along with what people like to hear.
But Jesus did not want to do that. Therefore:
John, like his Master, was likewise despised and rejected. The Lord Jesus said in verses 33-34,
Luke 7:33, For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
Luke 7:34, The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
Why was Jesus despised and rejected? The liberal Sadducees were not despised and rejected, even though their religion differed drastically from that of the Pharisees. The Pharisees had joined the Sadducees in the ruling council. They had agreed to compromise and they were cooperating with each other. Why were they not so tolerant of Jesus?
You see, Jesus was not willing to compromise. Jesus brought the truth of the Word of God. Jesus exposed the lies that the teachers of His day were spouting as truth. But His words were not well received because of Jesus uncompromising stand. Likewise John did not compromise either. John told King Herod that it was unlawful for him to have his brother's wife. The result was that Herod put John in prison, but John would not change his stand. John was not willing to bend the law of God to please this earthly king. He would rather die and please his heavenly King.
Where do we stand in this matter of marriage and divorce? Do we dare to take a stand and say what God says, that He hates divorce? Do we dare to take a stand and say: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder"? You see, we cannot pick and choose what we like from the Word of God. Either we take all of it, or we have nothing.
Is it not amazing how the world treats Christ and His followers? The Lord Jesus came into this world doing good. He healed many from their sicknesses. His whole life was dedicated in service to mankind, for free. But what did mankind do to Him? They crucified Him as a criminal.
His followers went out into the world doing good wherever they could. They were not criminals. They gave their life in service, for free. Their main goal was to save as many as they could from falling into Hell. But what did the world do? They persecuted them, and tortured them and killed them, as if they were a major threat to society.
The world today is technically more sophisticated, but morally the world today is even more corrupt than the world of the past. If a Pastor today dedicates his life to preach the truth from the Word of God, and does that free of charge, and if he does that faithfully to the Word of God, then he will be maligned and he will be gossiped about, even by people from within his own congregation. Just like Jesus warned us, we will be despised and rejected of men. The Lord Jesus said in John 15:
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
In other words: This is the normal Christian life. We will be persecuted for righteousness sake, and the critics are having the time of their life. The amazing thing about it all is that:
#3. God Wanted It That Way (Isa 46:9-10, 55:11, 48:9-11)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 46.
The fact that the Saints have been persecuted for almost as long as the world is in existence, attests to the truth that God wanted it that way. Our God is the omnipotent, sovereign God who rules over all the affairs of this universe, and He rules as well over the affairs of man. Nothing escapes the attention of God. All the world's history follows precisely the plan of God. God says in Isa 46:9-10,
Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
God declared the end from the beginning, even before history started to unroll. It was in God's good pleasure that the Saints be persecuted for righteousness sake.
This principle sheds a new light on many things in the Word of God. For example, we all remember the verse in Isa 55:11, which says:
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
This verse has been an encouragement to many evangelists, who were hoping that the seed they have sown will eventually lead to the salvation of many, because God's Word shall not return unto Him void. But God did not say that it shall lead to the salvation of many. God says that: "His Word shall not return unto Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He pleases". It is in God's plan to save His elect, but when His word goes out to the reprobate, it will cause their hearts to harden. In that case His Word also accomplishes that which pleases Him, because God's overall plan pleases Him. And if God's Word goes out and it causes the hearers to grind their teeth in anger, so that they are bound and determined to persecute the servants of the Most High, then here also God's Word has accomplished that which He pleases.
We can see that most clearly when the Jews shouted to Pilate: "Crucify Him, crucify Him". Here also God's Word has accomplished that which He pleases, because it was in God's plan that the Lord Jesus Christ must be crucified for our sins. For example, God prophesied in Isa 48 that the Lord Jesus would suffer for the sins of His elect. God says in Isa 48:9-11,
Isaiah 48:9 ¶ For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. (God will not cut off His elect, in spite of their sins.)
Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. (I have sanctified thee in the furnace of affliction at Calvary.)
Isaiah 48:11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? And I will not give my glory unto another.
In other words, God says: "I have chosen a people for myself. For mine own sake will I do it, and I will do the saving 100%, because I will not share my glory with another."
Let us return now to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 7. "Behold I Send My Messenger" was written in Luke 7:27 as it applies to John the Baptist. But John was despised, and rejected, and put in prison, and finally he was beheaded. Next, these words "Behold I Send My Messenger" apply to the Lord Jesus. He was sent into the world as the Messenger of the Covenant. But He too was despised and rejected of men. They crucified Him.
The Lord Jesus said that this is how they will treat all His followers. If it happened to John, and it happened to Christ, who do we think we are that it would not happen to us? And then Jesus said:
Wonderful and mysterious is this sentence in Luke 7:35,
Luke 7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
Actually the correct translation from the Greek should have been like this: "But wisdom was justified from all her children". (2X) The wisdom here refers to God's wisdom. God's wisdom in designing His incredible plan of salvation and carrying out His plan through Jesus Christ, led to salvation of the many who are called the children of God. All these children of God are the evidence that the wisdom of God was just and righteous.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.