In Defense of John the Baptist
I was disturbed when I heard a preacher on the radio saying that John the Baptist had a crisis of faith when he sent disciples In Luke 7. I had to write this in his defense. Here is the story first.
18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 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 cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
24 After John’s messengers left, 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? 25 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. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
who will prepare your way before you.’
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.”
Now the defense.
Mr. Anderson the religion teacher at the mission in Guatemala had to leave town. He told his students that the Pope himself will be teaching them until a new teacher is hired. Many students didn’t know exactly what a “Pope” was. The students were sad. A third grader said “We don’t want you to leave. We like learning religion from you. We don’t know if we can trust this Bishop to teach us the right thing.” Mr. Anderson explained you can totally trust the Pope
Student: Should believe whatever he tells us?
A 6th grader decided to play along. “Suppose he tells us not to listen to the priest?”
Anderson: He won’t do that?
Student: What if he does?
Anderson: Then you would listen to the Pope.
Student: Suppose he says Father Tony is not even a priest anymore?
Anderson: You would listen to the Pope.
Student: So who could tell us that Jesus is not the Messiah?
Mr. Anderson was a bit taken by the question. After thinking for a while he said” No one can. Only God or the Son of God”
Mr. Anderson looked at the back of the church where Father Tony was sitting. Father nodded in approval.
After class Mr. Anderson asked Father Tony, “So when John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, John must have already known and believed that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God?”
Fr. Tony: Indeed!
Anderson: So why ask?
Fr. Tony: The first question we should be asking is why did John the Baptist still have disciples after he told all his followers that he is only here to prepare the way for Jesus? Did John do his very best to make his disciples follow Jesus instead?
Fr. Tony: Is it a good thing that there were still disciples that followed John?
Fr. Tony: Do you think he tried his best to get them to stop following him and turn to Jesus?
Fr. Tony: So why did they continue?
Anderson: Maybe they were emotionally attached to him.
Fr. Tony: I think so. So this was a sort of intervention for those disciples’ emotional problem. Instead of telling them to go follow Jesus which they seem to refuse, he tells them “Go ask him a question for me”. Doing that he puts them in a mind set to listen to Jesus and do as he says. He also makes himself seem unsure (intentionally). He also knows that when they go see Jesus they will witness great miracles.
And Jesus (knowing everything) “plays along” speaking as if John was stumbling.
Did you notice that Jesus has so many good things to say about John? But he only says those things after John’s disciples leave. Jesus always had great things to say about John (some of the greatest testament by one man to another ever). The only time he says something less than flattering about John was when John’s disciples are around. As soon as they leave he goes back to saying great things about him.
Would Jesus, who knows the heart of every man say such things about someone who has a crisis of faith?