And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see?…
I. THERE ARE THOSE WHOSE IDEA OF RELIGION IS A WEAK, VACILLATING, OR VAGUE PRINCIPLE. It has no strong hold in their minds or hearts. To how many is religion hardly more than a mere curiosity, or a transcient excitement, like wind blowing among reeds. But these words are meant to describe the preconceptions of the multitude respecting John. For, after all, it may be said of the mass of men that their feeling in regard to religion is not one of curiosity; there is a deep sense of something in the thing itself, and not in the mere manner of presenting it; but it is not held to be a strong principle, fitted for maturity, or, if they do not conceive it to be vacillating and weak, they hold it fitfully, or else it is merely in a traditional way that men hold religion; or perhaps religion is held by them because it is respectable.
II. THAT THERE IS A CLASS TO WHOM RELIGION IS MERELY AN AFFAIR OF SENTIMENT. They are represented by those people who expected to see the Baptist clothed in soft raiment. There are those to whom religion is a matter of aesthetic beauty. In another view, religion is to some a matter of soft raiment, from the idea that it is merely a matter of comfort and consolation. Others do not like a religion that has anything to do with agitation or reform. There are some who do not like to hear hard, sharp epithets from the preacher.
III. THERE ARE THOSE WHO REGARD RELIGION IN ITS SUPERNATURAL CHARACTER, They look for nothing less remarkable or worthy than a prophet. They view religion solely in its connection with miracles. The supernatural is not the exclusive element in religion; religion touches our common daily life. What is religion to you?
(E. H. Chapin.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?