Hold On to Your Faith

KEY VERSE: “This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” —Matthew 11:10

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 11:2-15; Luke 7:24-30

JOHN THE BAPTIST had begun his preaching as a herald of Jesus—the Messianic hope—with the words, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matt. 3:3) “Herod Antipas of Galilee had given orders to have John arrested and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he had married. For John had been saying plainly to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife’.”—Mark 6:17,18, New International Version

As a result, Herodias “had a quarrel [Margin, ‘an inward grudge’] against him, and would have killed him: but she could not.” When this was not possible, she had John committed to prison, at the very time that our Lord departed into Galilee to start his ministry. (Matt. 4:12) What a severe test of John’s faith, for he had fervently proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, the one who was to come to establish the kingdom of God. Surely, in diligently carrying out God’s command to introduce Jesus, he had expected as one of the faithful to play an active role in that kingdom. John wondered why, if Jesus was truly the promised Messiah, he would permit him to be arrested and held in prison. Meanwhile, when John heard what Christ was doing in his ministry, he, “calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?” Jesus did not answer directly, but “in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities. … Then Jesus answering, said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the Gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” (Luke 7:20-23) John’s disciples could then report not only on the message Jesus was preaching, but also describe the miraculous works they had personally seen Jesus perform to reassure John that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

Many of those who had been attracted to John’s ministry in the wilderness were offended and stumbled by this odd, though humble, person. Clothed in raiment of camel’s hair, wearing a leather girdle about his body, obviously poor, leading a primitive existence, and a somewhat bizarre and lonely life style, surely John did not fit the picture of one chosen to announce the arrival of the great leader of the nation of Israel. So, after John’s disciples departed, Jesus began to speak unto the people concerning John. He asked, “What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? … A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 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. And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”—Luke 7:24-30

Later, when Jesus had come into the Temple, he related a parable for the benefit of the chief priests and elders of the people who, even yet, had not repented of their blinded hard hearts and stiff-necked characters. Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.’ When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parable, they knew he was talking about them.”—Matt. 21:42-45, NIV

As Jesus observed later, even the faith of his own disciples had failed them, for the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms wrote concerning him, but they were slow of heart to believe all that they read therein. (Luke 24:25,44) The lesson for us is that we pray that our faith fail not. Let us each study to show ourselves “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”—II Tim. 2:15

Dawn Bible Students Association
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