Taking the Deep Dive of Discipleship or Channel Surfing with the Crowd?

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June 29, 2016

Matthew 11:7-15

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

CONSIDER THIS

“What did you go out into the wilderness to see?

He asked the question not once, not twice but three times.  Why? Here’s a case where we need to try and read between the lines. It’s as though Jesus was upbraiding the crowds a bit. He seems frustrated with the crowd. Apparently as John’s disciples came to Jesus with John’s quandary (i.e. Are you the one or should we expect another), there was a crowd of onlookers. How would the crowd have interpreted this exchange? They all knew John and his bonafides and from the nature of the message it looked as if John was losing confidence in Jesus as the Messiah. Surely this must have shaken the crowd’s confidence in Jesus as well.

In a moment like this, it would make sense for Jesus to discredit the one who just seemed to discredit him. He does just the opposite.

“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 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 think Jesus is berating the crowd for their fickle, here today gone tomorrow mentality. Were they looking for the next religious hot shot or celebrity all-star preacher? John was in prison, Jesus’ identity was being called into question. Might the crowd have been ready to sell their stock in this movement and get on to another more promising deliverance campaign? We can’t be sure but it seems plausible. This is what crowds are like, after all. They are spectators, always looking but never quite getting on board with anyone. They are  fair weather friends, with you until the next scandal tries to upend you or until someone better comes along. Crowds show up at church. They go to revivals. They will come to your event and they may even give you their email address but they won’t join the movement. Crowds are ever telling others what happened though they have no real testimony of their own.

Jesus, like John, was not interested in pandering to the interests of the crowd. Like John, he would call them to repent and believe the Gospel which would be signified by their following him. He may feed them supper but he didn’t have much use for the fickle nature of crowds. He was interested in covenant.

Jesus stays on message and sticks to the storyline. He lets them know John was no fly by night passing revivalist while at the same time he doesn’t aggrandize him. 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

This is about the now near Kingdom of Heaven. John, in the spirit of Elijah, pointed to this King and Kingdom. As a consequence, like Elijah before him and like Jesus after him, John was subjected to violence. That’s what crowds do. Cheers and curses are the same thing to them. Everyone is responsible but in a crowd no-one is accountable.

Jesus is looking for covenant keeping disciples—men and women and children who will put their hand to the plow and never look back.

Daily Text MATTHEW 06-29-16THE QUESTIONS

1. Would you consider yourself a part of the crowd or a keeper of the Covenant (There’s really no middle ground here)?

2. What signifies this to you? What are the markers of covenant keeping with Jesus?

3. Are you on-board, on-boarding, or still deciding when it comes to the Jesus movement? What’s holding you back? What’s encouraging you forward?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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