Jesus Vindicates John
JESUS VINDICATES JOHN
Have you ever been accused of something that you didn’t do or of something that wasn’t true?
- That can be extremely frustrating especially if you are not able to defend yourself from the accusations. (Anita and the alarm clock)
- In a situation like that it is a source of great comfort and relief to have a vindicator…or to have someone come along and prove that the allegations that have been made against you to be wrong.
In this passage that was read Jesus is going to vindicate John the Baptist.
- If you remember from last week, John has been in prison for about 12 months and as a result he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He really was the “Expected One or did he need to look for someone else?”
- John seems to have some doubt about Jesus.
- Well, Jesus sends John’s disciples back to John and in essence tells John that He is the “Expected One” and that John needs to continue to trust in Jesus no matter what.
But in spite of Jesus reassuring John that He was the “Expected One” some of his opponents would pick up on John’s question and use it in an attempt to discredit John.
- “John has lost his faith…John is fickle…John is vacillating…you can’t trust what John says.
- If they can discredit John then they can discredit Jesus…and justify themselves.
Well, here in the verses that were read Jesus vindicates…He substantiates…He refutes the accusations that might be made…and He confirms John to be the faithful servant of God that he actually was.
Now, as Jesus vindicates John in this passage I found myself asking, “What would He say about me? And what would He say about you?”
- Would He be able to say the same things about me…about us…that He says about John?
- ”Still some of the Jews are a little perplexed by this…
- Let’s look at Jesus’ vindication of John and as we do ask yourself, “Would Jesus say any of these things about you?”
Look at what Jesus says about John starting in verse 7: And as these were going away, Jesus began to speak to the multitudes about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?
- This is a rhetorical question. Some of these people had gone out from Judea to the wilderness in the past…and they had seen John…and they had heard John…and when they did what kind of man did they find?
- Was he easily shaken like a reed?
We have all seen reeds along the bank of a creek or pond…and what happens when the wind blows? (They just sway back and forth…whatever direction the wind is blowing that is the way they are going to go…there is no rigidity…whatever influence is on it that is the way they go.)
- They bend under pressure…yielding to the slightest pressure.
There is an old Jewish fable that is about a reed and an oak tree…and the reed was boasting to the oak tree saying, “Because of my ability to compromise I will survive…it doesn’t matter how hard or what direction the wind blows…I just bend and go with the flow! But you old oak tree…when a big enough storm comes along you are going to fall over…you always speak about how strong you are…and all the shade you give to others…how valuable you are to the birds…but someday you will fall.”
- And the old oak tree responded to the reed and he said, “That may be true. But it better to stand for something than fall for anything.”
When these people went out to see John in the wilderness they saw a man that stood for what was right in the sight of God…they saw a man that stood strong against the “winds” of evil and unrighteousness…they saw a mighty servant of God who was willing to be imprisoned for standing up for the truth…and for what was right in the sight of God.
- And I wonder…would Jesus say the same about me…would He say that about you?
Look at vs. 8: “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces.
- Those who wore “soft clothing” were found in the king’s palace…they were courtiers who flattered the king in order to receive his favor…they kowtowed to the authority of the king with a desire to be rewarded with a high office…a position that enable them to wear “soft clothing.”
- They didn’t have any “backbone.”
- That is not what they saw in John.
What they saw in John was someone who stood up to the king and even rebuked him instead of flattering him.
- They saw someone that refused to kowtow to the king in order to wear “soft garments” and live in luxury…instead he boldly stood up for God speaking the truth.
- They saw someone who was willing to live in poverty for the cause of Christ rather than live in luxury for an ungodly king.
- He was uncompromisingly faithful to God.
- And I wonder…would Jesus say that about me…or about you?
Look at vs. 9: But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.
- When these people went to see John in the wilderness they saw something much better than kings or those wearing soft, fancy clothes….they saw a prophet of God…one who spoke for God.
But he was “much more than a prophet”…he not only foretold the coming of the Messiah but his own coming was foretold (Mal. 3:1).
- He was also born in a miraculous manner; he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15); he was a self-denying and righteous man; and he bore direct, open testimony to Jesus, baptized Him; saw the spirit descend on Jesus; and he was the link that joined the old and new covenants.
And as I look at what Jesus says here about John, would He say that I am much better than kings or those who compromise in order to wear soft clothing?
- Would He say that I am one who “speaks forth the word of God?”
- Would He say that I am a self-denying and righteous man who bears testimony of Jesus?
- Would he look at me and say that I am fulfilling the purpose that God has given me?
Now, look at verse 11: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
- John was spoken of by preceding prophets; he pointed out the fulfillment of the prophets concerning the Messiah…he spoke of the Messiah and the direction His life would take…and yet, Jesus says, “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
- What does Jesus mean by this? What is He talking about?
When Jesus speaks these words He has not yet established His kingdom, so John was not in the kingdom.
- Therefore, the humblest member or citizen of the kingdom is greater than John because that member of the kingdom is elevated from the position of a servant under the law to the place of a child of God in the kingdom.
- The least in the kingdom is greater than John simply because he enjoys fuller and richer blessings in Christ Jesus.
So would Jesus look at me and say that I am greater than John because I am in Christ’s kingdom…or would he look at me and say that I am still living under the Law….a system that was made obsolete by Christ? (Heb. 8:13) A system of justification by works and performance or a system of justification by faith and grace?
Look at vs. 12: From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.
- John’s work had not been in vain.
- He initiated the spark!
- He pointed people to the Messiah and His kingdom.
- And from that time the kingdom of heaven had been basically under siege by those wanting to get in.
- Vast crowds came to be baptized by John; the people pressed each other in order to gain the kingdom’s benefits. (We have read accounts where the people pressed Jesus as He tried to walk through them).
- Entrance into the kingdom requires earnest endeavor, untiring energy, utmost exertion.
- In Luke 13:24 Jesus told His disciples to “strive” to enter into the kingdom.
- In Luke 16:16 Jesus says that after John preached the gospel, “everyone was forcing their way into the kingdom.”
Satan is a mighty adversary and he has a large army of helpers to block the way into the kingdom.
- Therefore it takes vigorous, determined men and women…men and women who are eager to fight and to conquer, to overcome Satan and thus to take possession of the kingdom.
- Those who are weaklings, waverers, compromisers will not gain the kingdom.
- The kingdom is not gained by deferred prayers, unfulfilled promises, broken resolutions, and hesitant commitments.
- John started it…and people still must strive daily to obtain it.
And when Jesus looks at me would He say that I am pointing people to the Messiah and the kingdom too that they might seek it and find it?
Look at vs. 14: And if you care to accept it, he himself is Elijah, who was to come.”
- 400 years before God said through the prophet Malachi in Mal. 4:5 that He would send “Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord.”
- And God went on to say that this “Elijah” would “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
- Here in vs. 14 Jesus says that John is the fulfillment of that prophecy…he is the “Elijah” who was to come…and like the Elijah of old, John too was a preacher of repentance.
Would Jesus say that same thing about me…or about you?
So Jesus vindicates John here and in verse 15 He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
- These people had seen these things that Jesus has said about John…surely they would listen!?
- Or would they? Look at what Jesus says in verse 16: “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say,’ We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
- It wasn’t John who was fickle…it was instead those who were listening to the Pharisees and Rabbis.
- They weren’t happy with anything!
- “One minute they play the flute…and no one dances; so they switch to a dirge or a funeral song…and no one mourns!”
- They can’t make up their minds…there is no satisfying them.
John comes along neither eating nor drinking and they say, “He has a demon!”
- But then Jesus comes along eating and drinking, and they say, “He is a gluttonous man and a drunkard, and a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!”
- If you want to talk about being “reeds blowing in the wind” they were reeds.
And once again…would Jesus say this same thing about me…or about you?
- Are you one of those individuals that are so dead set against Christ that you are going to deny Him and anything that He says or does?
Look at verse 19: Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
- People may deny and ridicule God’s messengers…they may ridicule God’s method of doing things.
- But in the end His truth…His wisdom always justifies itself.
- Those who deny John…and who deny Christ are fools.
Now I want to show you something…in this passage Jesus vindicates John against the potential criticisms and accusations that the people might have.
- And the way that Jesus vindicates John is by talking about John’s character and the things he did.
But let me show you something…turn if you would to Romans 8: 33. The apostle Paul says, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?”
- I will tell you who…it is not people who will bring the charge…Satan will…Satan is going to charge us with being sinners…and as such we should be condemned to eternal punishment!
- He is our accuser and he is right…we are sinners!
Look at the beginning of verse 34: “Who is the one who condemns?”
- Well, I will tell you…it is Satan! Because of our sin Satan says, “You are guilty and you must pay!”
But look at the end of verse 33 again: God is the One who justifies!
- And look at the second part of verse 34: Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God who also intercedes for us.”
- Listen, this is talking about vindication!
The difference between us and John is John was being accused falsely by men.
- And Jesus, pointing out the things that John did, showed those allegations to be false.
- But for us Satan brings the charges and we are guilty…we are as guilty of sin as we can be…and we deserve exactly what sin demands…eternal punishment.
- But God vindicates us…not on what we have done…not on our merits…not on how good we are…but on the merits of Jesus.
Satan says, “Virgil is a sinner…he has done this and he has done that!”
- And God says, “Yes, Virgil is a sinner…but Jesus is without sin…and because of Virgil’s faith and obedience to Christ by being baptized into Christ…having clothed himself with Christ…it is Christ’s performance that Virgil will be judged by…therefore, Virgil is vindicated from all charges and accusations.”
You know, it is a very frustrating thing to be accused of something and not be able to prove yourself innocent.
- But it is an amazing thing to be guilty as charged…condemned to die eternally…and then be vindicated by what someone else has done.
- Jesus vindicated John…and He can and will vindicate you if you will let Him.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023