Some people are never satisfied, and it is interesting to read about what people said about Jesus and John the Baptist in Luke 7.
Luk 7:31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
Luk 7:32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
Luk 7:33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
Luk 7:34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
Luk 7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
John the Baptist was criticized for living off the grid, and Jesus was criticized for engaging culture. They were both on different extremes, and clearly Jesus was not condemning John. Perhaps that tells us something about our Christian lives.
Certainly, there are beliefs that make someone a Christian. The obvious example is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You cannot be a Christian and not believe in historical legitimacy of the great miracle. That is a core part of mere Christianity as termed by CS Lewis. There are things that need to be acknowledged for one to be a Christian. Some other tenets that fit under this umbrella are the reality of sin, the existence of God and the necessity of forgiveness.
However, think about what happened in verse 32. Jesus makes the comparison to children who are upset that the other children are not dancing while they play music. Some are upset because the others perhaps don’t feel like participating. Maybe they had a difficult day, or maybe it is simply that they do not like the music. Whatever the reason, it does not change the fact that they are all children.
Similarly, one way this plays out in the modern church is similarly through our taste in music. Music is not one of the mere Christian beliefs that we all need to agree on. Some churches like modern worship, some only do hymns accompanied by a piano or organ (which were ironically modern at one point) and there are even some churches that don’t believe in instruments whatsoever.
Is there a difference? Sure, it is obvious that there is a difference between these groups of Christians. It is not a difference that makes one Christian and one not a Christian.
I think that is kind of what Jesus was trying to get at here. Following Christ might look a little bit different for different people. Certain core beliefs will necessarily be the same, and the fruit of the spirit should be developing in all situations as the believer walks with Christ. However, our lifestyles might be slightly different, and our faith might come out in different ways.
John the Baptist was an impressive man. He was an excellent preacher, and in Luke 3, we have a wide range of people coming to talk to him, and some of them are beginning to wonder if he is the Christ.
Luk 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Luk 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
John was a humble man. He was able to keep his perspective. Even though he had people coming to him to be baptized, he reminded them that there was someone even greater who was going to do something even greater.
After all, water baptism is a great thing to do. That type of public identification with Christ is valuable, but when compared to the baptism from the Holy Spirit, it is a much different process.
John realized what he could do, and that is a vital part. He did the job that he was called to do. He was essentially had to be the first missionary for the cause of Christ. He was preaching about the Messiah who was coming soon after him. He was not called to baptize people with the Holy Spirit. That is what Jesus was able to do. John was not upset that he did not have the job of Jesus Christ, but he did his job with power and humility. It is an interesting combination.
I then think about us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ; we are not called to be Jesus Christ. We are the messengers, and we do the work that we have been called to. We need to remember what our job is and do it well.
In Mark 11, it seems as if the Pharisees are being incredibly reactionary. They were interacting with Jesus, but rather than take a firm stand for their beliefs, they wanted to cater to the people.
Mar 11:28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
Mar 11:29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Mar 11:30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
Mar 11:31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
Mar 11:32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
Mar 11:33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
It seems rather clear that the Pharisees wanted to choose the option in verse 32. They did not believe that the baptism of John was legitimate, so they should have answered honestly. However, they did not because they were afraid of the people. They were afraid because the people thought that John was a prophet.
I suppose that there was reason for their concern because John was a prophet. They people were right for the record. As a result, they would not have been happy, but you would hope that the Pharisees would have the integrity to state their opinion.
Now, we translate that to us today. As Christians, we might be in a similar situation where we are being challenged about our beliefs. I hope that we would have the integrity to say what we believe. Of course the situation is a little bit different because we are on the side of Jesus and not trying to make Him fall like the Pharisees were doing, but I think that the lesson is instructive for us.
In Matthew 11, we have Jesus talking about John the Baptist, and I was struck by the contrast between Jesus and John.
Mat 11:16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
Mat 11:17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
Mat 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
Mat 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Jesus is identified here as the Son of Man, and it seems to refer back to Matthew 9 where Jesus was criticized for eating a meal with the tax collectors. The people were not happy that He was partaking in those activities, but they also thought John was crazy for not doing any of them.
Part of me wonders if Jesus could have done anything that would have made the people happy. After all, what was really offensive about Jesus was not necessarily who He had dinner with, but His teaching was hard for some people to handle. John was the same way. They were preaching about a shift that was going to be taking place, and people were not always able to understand that.
I guess the take away for us is that we should not be surprised whatsoever if people think our decisions as Christians are crazy. Sure, we express our faith in different ways. Some of us might have convictions that they lead us to live like John. Some of us might not be comfortable with that, but we might be more comfortable sharing our faith with that “tax collectors” of our day. We have different callings of who we are meant to minister to, but I think we can learn from John and Jesus that there will always be critics and people do not understand. We try to work with them, but it is a reality.
Hezekiah basically led a revival in 2 Chronicles 30. Even though they technically missed the time of year for Passover, Hezekiah decided that it would be a good idea to have the ceremony and bring honor to God.
Then, on top of that he sent out messengers to all the wayward tribes of Israel inviting them to come back and begin worshiping God again. Naturally, not everyone accepted his invitations, but he was trying to Israel back together under the leadership of God.
2Ch 30:25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced.
2Ch 30:26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
2Ch 30:27 Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven.
It must have been different to have that type of leadership. He had the people tear down the altars to the various idols, and the people were apparently having a great experience worshiping God and getting their lives right with Him.
Revival needs to start somewhere. In this case, it started with the powerful. Revivals have also started with ordinary people. John the Baptist was nothing overly special on an earthly level, but he began preparing the hearts of the people for the coming Messiah.
In either case, someone was there to get people moving in the right direction. That is what we need today. We need some type of revival. I’m not sure how it will happen. It could come from the top or from the average everyday person, but if it does happen, it will naturally have a beginning. Maybe God wants to use one of you to kick off this movement.