God’s People, part 207: Followers of John

Read Matthew 9:14-17

“John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”  (Matthew 11:2-3, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

John-the-Baptist-in-PrisonPart 207: Followers of John. When we think of John the Baptist, we think of the prophet who preceded Jesus, and prepared the way for the coming of Christ. We often think of a wire-haired, wild-eyed, long-bearded, fiery prophet eating honey-smothered locusts. We probably envision him shouting at the top of his raspy voice, “Make straight a path for the Lord”, all the while thousands come from around Judaea to see him and be baptized.

As for his followers, we probably envision people who were looking toward the coming of the Messiah. We envision them hanging on his every word, listening intently for some nugget of truth about when the Anointed One of God would come. We know that some may have thought he was the Messiah himself, but when they saw John baptize Jesus, we more than likely imagine all of John’s followers leaving him to follow that long-awaited Messiah.

In reality, however, that was not the case. Once Jesus began his ministry, many of John’s followers stayed with him. John continued his ministry for at least a shortwhile after Jesus’ arrival at the Jordan. The Bible is not explicit as to the timing of John’s arrest, but it is quite explicit to the fact that John’s disciples were still active and around. They carried messages back and forth to him and they delivered messages that he had for others.

For example, in Matthew 11:2-19, we’re told that John sent his disciples to Jesus to question him as to whether he was the Messiah, or if they should expect another to come. In other words, John, who was imprisoned, was experiencing doubt as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus’ response, in part, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5, NLT).

In today’s Scripture, we see John’s disciples challenging the way Jesus was doing things. They wanted to know why Jesus and his disciples were not fasting like they and the Pharisees were. Jesus’ responded by pointing to them to himself. “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast” (Matthew 9:15, NLT).

Like John’s disciples, we tend to lose our focus on what really matters: JESUS CHRIST. We get caught up and rules and regulations. We get caught up styles of worships and interior decoration. We get caught up in politics. We get caught up in all sorts of things that seem important to us; however, they are not important compared to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We are being challenged to place our focus back on Jesus, back on the Savior of humanity. Everything we do ought to come out of our deepest desire to serve Him and bring Him glory. Everything we do needs to be out of our desire to spread the Kingdom of God and the reign of Christ. Let us be a people who are eating, sleeping, and breathing Jesus Christ and his coming Kingdom!

Christ is Lord.

Jesus, help me to understand what it means for you to be my Lord. I wish for you to dwell within me and direct me in all that I do. Amen.

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