Summary: There was ano doubt that John the Baptist was a peculiar man in more ways than one. But those who follow is his proclamatorial footprints will be peculiar too.
Passage: Matthew 11:7-19
Intro: It’s easy to develop a low view of ourselves as we live in the world.
1. when the response of the world is to despise us, ridicule our faith, reject the One we love, not unusual for us to wonder if we are who we are portrayed to be.
2. but tucked here in Matthew 11 is a passage we need to read and understand.
3. it contains a powerful word that is used only here in the NT, and will give us a whole new view of ourselves.
4. believers are unique in the world, my friends, and because of that, we are always going to misunderstood and even rejected.
5. but when we understand the state of those rejecting us and our message, we will find comfort and a renewed vision of our task.
6. the context of this whole passage is critical to correct understanding, so let’s take a running start at this.
I. John the Baptist: An Example of Peculiarity
1. you recall that this whole passage began with Jesus being questioned by John thru his disciples.
2. so now, after they had had their question about Jesus answered, they left.
3. but Jesus took the opportunity to connect some dots for us.
4. uses a modified Socratic method of teaching, asks questions about John.
5. what drew you out to the desert?
6. were you drawn by something normal, everyday, like a reed blowing in the wind? (NO)
7. did you go out there to see a man dressed in somewhat normal fashion? (NO)
8. so why did you go? Was it not because God was finally speaking after 400 years of virtual silence? (YES)
9. and perhaps you were drawn to a very unique message from a very peculiar man.
10. then Jesus explains the peculiarity of John that drew people to hear him.
11. he is the first wave of a very different assault force
12. he comes in the mode of an OT prophet, speaking for God and bringing a unique message.
13. but as unique as he is, and as great as he is, another group is coming that will be even greater. V11
14. because they will be a whole new species of human beings, a people fathered by God
15. John was the greatest of those “born of woman”.
16. but another group coming who was “born of God”
II. Who are These Who Are Greater Than John?
1. v12 is incredibly controversial, as you have already noticed if you have a version different than NIV
2. word translated “forceful” in NIV is translated “suffers violence” and “violent men”
3. focus then is the opposition to the gospel and the kingdom of God.
4. the word used only here in NT, and can mean “violent, forceful, to apply force”
5. context concludes it for me. There is a contrast being drawn, ends with vv17-19
6. there is nothing peculiar about opposition to God’s revelation; that is usual behavior.
7. but in the context, v12 speaks of people greater than John, a whole new race of people.
8. an in contrast to the fear that is typical of the world, seen in vv17-19, this new group of people is forceful instead of timid, exercise faith instead of the old standby of fear.
Il) an army of two enters the prison walls, John the Baptist as the herald, and then Jesus Christ. They stand in the exercise yard and call out that freedom is available for anyone who will accept the offer.
9. and those who have grown tired of the lies, have by God’s grace recognized the deception, run out and “grasp the truth”
10. it is unusual! It is miraculous! It is God-initiated and God-inspired!
11. and these people now stand in stark contrast to those who remain in their cells, afraid of freedom, unwilling to drop the substitutes that Satan has soothed them with and to take advantage of this offer of freedom.
12. what causes this resistance?
III. The Illogical and Inappropriate Response of Fear.
Il) Max Lucado story about daughter trapped in the plastic ball pile.
1. for some reason that was illogical, this girl did not believe her dad, but clung to a lie because she was afraid to let go of it.
2. Jesus describes the normal human reaction to this two man rescue team in similar terms.
3. v17; “we played the dance number and you just stood there.”
4. we sang a funeral piece, and you stood there laughing.”
5. in other words, your response to our invitation was not what could be expected. Why?
6. your fear caused you to misinterpret the facts.
7. John came living a very austere lifestyle, and you decided he was demon- possessed.