Exploring Matthew - Different is Bad... Right?
Now in those days John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, for this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’” Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. Matthew 3:1, 3-6 NASB1995
John was unique. He was different. Jesus had a few things to say about him, but those few things speak volumes.
“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...
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
There was more Jesus said but we will come to it later in Matthew. For today, I want us to consider that as unusual as John the Baptist was, Jesus affirmed him in the strongest of terms. Not only that but Jesus acknowledged how different he was. He also pointed out that people found reasons to dismiss them both.
In my own words Jesus basically said, "John was a fanatic in his lifestyle and they said he was demon possessed. I came eating and drinking and they call me a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of low-life, no-count people.”
So, what gives? Why did John take such a radical approach to his lifestyle and ministry? If that approach was good, why did Jesus take a drastically different approach?
Jesus answered this question. He said, "Wisdom is proved right by her deeds".
Boil away the surface lifestyle differences, and Jesus and John were doing the same things. Their message was for all people. Their message called for heart change. Their message pointed to the Lamb as the source of that change and their only hope.
It's the same now. Preachers can be radically different in style, in looks, in approach, etc... but look for the ingredients that really count. Are they pointing to the Lamb? Are they calling for a heart transformation? Don't let the devil tempt you to dismiss them because their style doesn't match yours. Judge by the content of the message. Are they in harmony with God's Story like John and Jesus were?
Wisdom is proved right by her deeds.
Tomorrow we'll explore the baptism component of John's ministry. What was that about?