July 13

Text: Matthew 21:25-27

And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?'  But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude; for they all hold John to be a prophet."  And answering Jesus, they said, "We do not know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”  (NASB)

John was a weird man!  He dressed in weird clothing.  He ate weird food.  He taught in a strange place.  His basic message was a strange message: “Israelites, you urgently need to repent.  You may have the temple and scripture, but you urgently need to repent.  You may be Abraham’s descendants, but you urgently need to repent.”  He did not tell the immoral-acting idol worshipers that they needed to repent (which they did), but he told the God-worshiping Israelites that they needed to repent.  He was a direct man who was quite direct in his message

Jesus said of John that he was the greatest man ever born (Matthew 11:11).  Why?  He fulfilled a purpose of God that was both essential and difficult.  (We like essential, but we do not like difficult.)

John was an easy man to reject.  Though the common people adored him, the accomplished people had little use for him.  He offended the wrong people as the Israelites struggled with image problems.

John was the kind of man you liked to explain away if you were a part of the “significant” people of Israel.  While the common people considered John to be a prophet from God, the “significant” people considered him to be someone to be tolerated.

Though dead, John was still a religious reality in Israel.  Now the prominent people of the temple were trapped in the device they built.  If they said John was from God, Jesus would ask why they did not listen to him.  If they said John did not come from God, the people would turn against them.

Self-preservation often is the basis of unusual choices!

Suggestion for reflection: Which is most important: self-preservation or devotion to God?  Why?  (Read 2 Kings 22:14-20.)

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