Through the Bible Day by Day
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
HOW DOUBTS MAY BE SOLVED
The Baptist was languishing in a gloomy dungeon in the castle of Machaerus, on the farther shores of the Dead Sea-like a wild creature of the desert, suddenly entrapped. The darkness of his cell depressed his spirit; it seemed strange, too, if Jesus were the Messiah, that He did not overthrow the tyrant rule of Herod and release His captive friend.
When you are in doubt, go straight to Jesus and ask Him to deal with it! Our Lord did not argue with the messengers sent by John, but pointed to the beneficent works that the Father had given Him to do. See Joh_5:36; also Isa_29:18; Isa_35:5-6. The influence of Christ on individuals and the world is the best testimony to the validity of His claims. The demonstration of Christianity is to be found in its acceptance and practice.
The disciples had gone before our Lord uttered this great eulogium on His faithful friend, lest he should be exalted beyond measure, and lest his faith should not have room to grow. Ah, downcast soul, who art writing hard things of thyself, it may be that thy merciful Lord is viewing thy life more accurately and estimating it more lovingly than thou knowest!
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
THE LAST OF THE PROPHETS
The least in a higher dispensation has great advantages over the greatest in a lower one. A child on a hill can see farther than a giant in the valley. Many have tried to right the world by violence, by the vehemence of their speech and acts. But it is not so that the Kingdom comes. Its weapon is not the sword, but the cross. Its advent is not as the thunder shower, but as the summer dew or the opening of the dawn.
Our Lord truly estimated the temper of His age. It was fickle, changeable, and hard to please; but beneath its evident superficiality there was a substratum of rock. They refused John because of his austerity, and they refused Jesus because of His human kindness and gentleness. Never trim your sails for the world’s breath. The breeze springs up and soon dies away. Do God’s will!
O sinful brother and sister, can we ever estimate enough the assurance that Jesus is the friend of our souls? He does not disown, withdraw, or reproach. He knows what our temptations are, and makes allowances, and loves us steadfastly forever.
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
WOE OR WELCOME
The voice of upbraiding, Mat_11:20-24. The Judge weeps as he pronounces the doom of those who reject Him. They would have crowned Him king, but refused to repent. See Joh_6:15. These cities did not crucify Him, but they had been deaf to His warnings and indifferent to His mighty works. Even where there is no direct opposition, indifference will be sufficient to seal our doom.
The voice of thanksgiving, Mat_11:25-27. He “answered” the voice of God within His breast. Babes are those who mistrust the reasonings of their intellect, but trust the instincts and intuitions of their hearts. The child-heart looks open-eyed into all the mysteries of God. Learn to say Yea to all God’s dealings. The Spirit reveals the Son, and the Son the Father. Our Lord must be divine, if only God can know him.
The voice of pleading mercy, Mat_11:28-30. Labor is for active manhood; heavy-laden for suffering, patient womanhood. The invitation is to commit and submit; to come and to bow under the yoke of the Father’s will. Submission and obedience are the secrets of the blessed life.