Jesus said, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John…” How many people were born of women? Daaaa… Everyone, innumerable people, but no mother had ever birthed a child greater than John. In greatness, I would think of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel, on and on. I’m not certain John the Baptist would come to my mind. However, Jesus said list them all. At the top of the list of greatness is John the Baptist.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 7

by Delbert Young

Greater than John (Luke 7:21-28)Greater than John (Luke 7:21-28)

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Greater than John (Luke 7:21-28)

Scriptures: Luke 7:18-20; Luke 7:21-23; Philippians 2:12; Luke 7:23; Matthew 14:4-12; Luke 7:24-25; Luke 7:26; Luke 7:27-28;Malachi 3:1; John 3:3; John 3:4; John 3:5

 Last week we looked at an interesting passage about doubting God, specifically doubting Jesus. It wasn’t just anyone struggling with doubt. It was a great man of God – a prophet, John the Baptist.

Luke 7:18-20 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'”

John was struggling. We saw the presence of doubt does not mean the absence of faith no more than the presence of fear is the absence of courage. Doubts are questions needing accurate answers. Many things cause us to doubt God, but two are primary: (1) Depression brings doubt. John was in prison and depressed. (2) Incorrect interpretation of scriptures bring doubt causing erroneous expectations of God. John experienced erroneous expectations of what the Messiah would do. John interpreted and preached Messiah would judge everyone. Instead, Jesus was healing and forgiving everyone.

Today, let’s look at a part of the response Jesus gave to John’s doubts and the response we can expect when we doubt.

Luke 7:21-23 AT THAT VERY TIME Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “GO BACK AND REPORT TO JOHN what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”

First, Jesus didn’t rebuke John for doubting. Jesus didn’t jump down John’s throat with finger pointing or a theological dissertation. So, doubting is not sin. What did Jesus do? Well, he ministered to those who weren’t doubting. He didn’t give John’s messengers a lot of time. Jesus focused on those who were focused on him. People were being blessed, but John and his disciples could only watch and hear about it. Jesus told John to focus on what he was doing and saying, not on what he wasn’t doing and wasn’t saying.

When we doubt, Jesus doesn’t get all worried, stop blessing others, and stop being God. He can’t minister to us much when we’re doubting. He simply says, “Just look at everyone else getting blessed. Sorry you’re missing out.” Get beyond doubt as quickly as you can.

Next, Jesus was gentle with John, but extremely vague. When you doubt, do you feel Jesus is extremely vague with you? We want a definite answer to our doubt, but Jesus sort of says, “Look around. See what I’ve done in the lives of those not doubting.” Then, Jesus leaves it to us to work out? He’s not going to make us believe.

Philippians 2:12 …WORK OUT your own salvation with FEAR AND TREMBLING.

Ultimately we make the decision to doubt or believe. However, we need to know the seriousness of doubting Jesus. He told John’s disciples to tell John what they saw, but then said this.

Luke 7:23 “Blessed is the man who does not FALL AWAY on account of me.”

(KJV) Luke 7:23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be OFFENDED in me.

Was John close to falling away? Was John that offended in Jesus? Doubt, not worked out, does cause people to fall away and be offended. The word translated“offended” or “fall away” is skandalizo {skan-dal-id’-zo}. We get our English word “scandalize” from it. Was John scandalizing Jesus? The word skandalizomeans to put a stumbling block upon which another may trip and fall; to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of; to be displeased, indignant.

According to what I see, Jesus sent word to John to be very careful about his personal doubt and careful what he said to others about Jesus. “John, because you’ve got your questions, displeased, and indignant with me, don’t become a stumbling block tripping people”

When we don’t work out our doubts, we become displeased, indignant, and offended. Then we vocalize our offence to others tripping them in their faith. We talk and what we say can become scandalous. Jesus said don’t do that. Things will not go well for you.

Has anyone every tripped you concerning your faith? It’s serious and it happens frequently. Be very, very careful.

We’re not told how John received or responded to his disciples report or to the warning. We do know the following took place a short time later.

(TMB) Matthew 14:4-12 John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God. But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “Give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.” That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it– ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial

John was decapitated. Enticing her own step father at a drunken birthday party with a provocative seductive dance, Herodias’s daughter used her sensuality to execute John. John’s head was placed on a platter. Was this because John scandalized Jesus? I don’t know, but I know Jesus gave him a warning. I know when people scandalize causing others to trip in their faith, bad things happen. I get very uncomfortable when people, even close friends, begin to scandalize men and women of God. I don’t want my head, or their head, on a platter. Don’t allow your doubts to become skandalizo.

Luke 7:24-25 After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John. “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.

Jesus didn’t turn to the crowd and put John down saying, “What’s wrong with that guy? John knows I’m the Messiah!” Instead, he helped people appreciate John by causing them to remember John.

Jesus asked a most interesting question. Why were they attracted to John the Baptist? Why did they walk fifty miles in the desert wilderness to hear John – no women’s rooms, no air conditioning, no coffee, no padded chairs, no nursery? Jesus asked if they realized what they did and where they went. Did you go to the wilderness to enjoy the scenery – a reed blown in the wind? Did you go to see and hear a spineless pushover preacher blowing with every wind of doctrine? John didn’t go the way the wind blew. He confronted the wind. Did you go to see a preacher in a thousand dollar suit? The word “expensive clothing” is translated in King James as “soft raiment.” The word is malakos {mal-ak-os’} – effeminate; of a male prostitute. Did you go to see a “froufrou” preacher? No. John wore camel’s hair. He didn’t eat the food of the palace. He ate bugs and honey. Why did they go to hear John? What attracted them to John? Perhaps we should ask, “What attracts us to a preacher?”

Luke 7:26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and MORE THAN A PROPHET.

They went to hear what God was saying! They went to hear and see something different. I tell you more than a prophet, Jesus said. What is more than a prophet?

Luke 7:27-28 This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I TELL YOU, AMONG THOSE BORN OF WOMEN THERE IS NO ONE GREATER THAN JOHN…”

Instead of blasting John for scandalizing him, Jesus gave John the greatest compliment ever given anyone. Instead of blasting people when they scandalize us, we should find a way to compliment them. That’s tough to do.

Jesus said, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John…” How many people were born of women? Daaaa… Everyone, innumerable people, but no mother had ever birthed a child greater than John. In greatness, I would think of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel, on and on. I’m not certain John the Baptist would come to my mind. However, Jesus said list them all. At the top of the list of greatness is John the Baptist.

What made John the greatest? His birth? His being filled with the Spirit? His being eccentric? His message? All that was special, but not great. Its interesting reading commentaries by theologians and researching what others say and write as the reason for John’s greatest. Jesus told us. “This is the one about who it is written. Jesus quoted Malachi 3:1.

Malachi 3:1 “See, I will send my messenger, who will PREPARE THE WAY before me.

Jesus said you didn’t only go out to the wilderness to see “a prophet.” You went out to see “the prophet.” The prophet the other prophets prophesied about who must come before Messiah came. All other prophets only talked about the Messiah. John saw and identified the Messiah. John was the “bridge” from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. John was the last Old Testament prophet and the first New Testament prophet. John physically pointed you to the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. That made John the greatest.

Jesus said that’s why you walked fifty miles in the desert. That’s why you tolerated an eccentric guy with all his idiosyncrasies, calling you snakes, commanding you to repent, shoving you into water for all to see you sinned. You went because you knew John was pointing you to God.

Why do you drive here every Sunday? I hope it’s not to see and hear “froufrou.” I pray the primary reason you get up, dressed, and come here every week, some from many miles away, allow me to dedicate your children, perform your marriages, bury your loved ones, shove you into water, and preach to you is so I can help point you to God and his kingdom.

Jesus did not stop with John’s greatness. Let’s read the remainder of that verse.

Luke 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; YET THE ONE WHO IS LEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS GREATER THAN HE.”

Jesus went through all the “What did you go into the wilderness to see” to tell you how great you are. John was great, but you are greater! Noah was great, but you are greater. Moses was great, but you are greater. We don’t think like that do we? Jesus does. David was great, but I’m greater. That sounds wrong and requires some thought.

Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel, etc were great people. Yet, Jesus said if you are in the kingdom of God, if you are in only by the skin of your teeth (least), you are greater than any of them and even greater than the greatest. How big is that? Squeeze that into your theology! Go home and tell someone you’re greater than Moses. Tell me how they respond, but did Jesus say it or not? So, is it true? Are you in God’s kingdom?

Why are we greater than John and Moses, David, etc? They lived in hope of the Messiah’s coming and what he would do. We, in the kingdom, live in fulfillment and what Christ has done. John couldn’t preach or experience the power of the blood. We can. That makes us greater. John couldn’t preach the Holy Spirit coming upon us and empowering us with gifts. We can. That makes us greater. John couldn’t preach from the epistles of Paul, or the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We know all about that. John knew nothing about the church and bride of Jesus Christ. Not only can we preach it, we are that Bride. It’s pretty good when you are the Bride of God. We have a better/greater covenant. We have a greater clarity about Father God, Jesus Christ the Son, the Holy Spirit, and so many things. They only had a fraction of what we have. That makes us greater. We know what John and Moses never knew. That makes us greater. As great as those on the back side of the cross were, those on this side in the kingdom are greater.

We look at Moses and we’re awed, amazed, and honor him. Moses looks at you. He’s awed, amazed and honors you. We’re amazed at David dancing before the Lord and praising God. David is amazed by you.

One night an important Pharisee named Nicodemus snuck away to meet and talk to Jesus about the kingdom of God.

John 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

The reason we are born again is not only so we can go to heaven when we die. We are born again so we can see the kingdom of God.

John 3:4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Similar to what we’ve studied about John, greatness is not about being born of women. It’s about getting into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one CAN ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD unless he isBORN OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT.

Being born again is about seeing the greatness of the kingdom and entering into that greatness now. The kingdom isn’t coming one day. It’s here to enter now. Jesus said, the one who is least in the kingdom of God is great. Are you in the kingdom? Are you born again? Are you born of water and the Spirit?

When you experience doubt, and we all do, realize you’re depressed, or you’ve misinterpreted God’s word. You have wrong expectations of God and/or people. Jesus loves you, but when you doubt he can’t do a lot for you. He seems vague to you as he focuses on those not doubting and focused on him. Don’t allow your doubt to become skandalizo. Don’t lose your blessing, or your head, because of doubt. Look around. See the blessings others not doubting are receiving. Work out your doubt quickly, but most important, make certain you are born again and in the kingdom of God.

Other Related Sermons:

Prayer for the New Year – sermon notes

New Beginning – sermon notes

Easter Nonsense – sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young