Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXVI: God's Certifying The Credibility Of His Servants' Witness Regardless Of Their Temporal Plight
(Luke 7:24-35)
  1. Introduction
    1. When a believer takes a personal stand for what he believes is the truth, and that stand is opposed or even ridiculed, it can cause others or even himself to second-guess the credibility of his stand.
    2. John's stand landed him in prison, much to his confusion as an Old Testament prophet who expected to be released from prison by Jesus' taking charge as Messiah. When Jesus did NOT release John, his negative plight cause John second thoughts about his former beliefs.
    3. Jesus set the record straight by giving God's perspective on John's credibility, and His own, in spite of the criticism and temporal evidences that both had faced to the contrary regarding their stands, Luke 7:24-35.
  2. God's Certifying The Credibility Of His Servants' Witness Regardless Of Their Temporal Plight.
    1. Being an Old Testament prophet, John the Baptizer thought that any set backs he would experience when Jesus arrived would only be temporary as He was due to set up His kingdom and release John of trials.
    2. However, when John took his stand on an issue involving divorce and remarriage and he ended up in prison without Jesus releasing him, he had second thoughts about his beliefs:
      1. John was imprisoned for speaking up about Herod's taking his brother's wife, Mtt. 14:3-4; Lk. 3:19-20.
      2. However, John had presented Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God to Israel according to John 1:29-34.
      3. Accordingly, being an Old Testament prophet who had no insight of the Church age that came before the Messianic Kingdom, he would have felt his imprisonment was temporary until Jesus set up His Messianic Kingdom and released him to rul e with Him in it!
      4. When Jesus did not set up His kingdom right away, John had doubts about Jesus being the Messiah, and sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus' true identity, Lk. 7:18-19.
    3. Lest the onlookers think John was somehow weak and vacillating, Jesus set the onlookers who witnessed John's question through his disciples straight as to the credibility of John and his stand and ministry, 7: 24ff:
      1. Through use of rhetorical questions, Jesus revealed that John was a man of strong spiritual fiber:
        1. John was not vacillating like other false prophets were -- his unyielding adherence to the Word of God had landed him in prison to his credit and the discredit of other false prophets who said what Herod wanted and landed in nice clothing and the king's court as a result, Luke 7:24-25. John was indeed the greatest of the Old Testament prophets in character, Luke 7:26a implied.
        2. But, more than a prophet, John was the Forerunner of the Messiah, chosen of God for his spiritual greatness to prepare the way for Jesus, Luke 7:26b-28a.
      2. Then Jesus revealed that the results of John's ministry, the results as measured in the lives of his followers, justified his ministry no matter how bleak was John's current experience in prison, 7:29-35:
        1. When Jesus complimented John's greatness, the despised publicans and people who had believed through John's work agreed as the high-minded Pharisees and lawyers repudiated it, Lk. 7:29-30.
        2. Jesus responded to this reaction by commenting on how these down-and-outers were right and the Pharisees and lawyers, the religious elite in Israel, were dead wrong: (a) John's style, that of being an ascetic, was too "negative" a spiritual posture for the Pharisees and lawyers to accept for them to believe he was right, Lk. 7:31, 32b-33; (b) conversely, Jesus' messianic posturing had been very upbeat and festive, and the religious elit e felt it was unrealistic and hence not credible to show Jesus as the Messiah, Lk. 7:31, 32a, 34; (c) however, both John's ascetic ministry and Jesus' festive ministry had produced changed lives in the publicans and poor people, regardless of what human criticisms could be levied at the style both men had used. Thus, their ministries were credible, 7:35.
Lesson: (1) We must learn not to judge ourselves or others based on (a) how well LIKED are the stands one has taken, (b) or how well liked is the person is who has taken the stand, (c) or by how well are his living circumstances produced by the stan d or (d) even if the one taking the stand has second thoughts on his stand, for ALL of these can MISLEAD as they did in John's case. (2) GOD wants us to see if there are changed lives regardless of these other temporal circumstances: a lack of resulting ch anged lives means no credibility; changed lives for God show credibility (James 3:18)!