Thursday, May 22, 2014

Recognizing truth (Luke 7:29)

When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God's justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. (Luke 7:29 NASB)

"All the people and the tax collectors" is an odd phrase. It sounds a little as if the tax collectors were not people, but of course they were. Perhaps they are separated out because it was their job to collect the tax (a much hated task) for the Roman government and many people considered them traitors to Israel, no longer a part of their fellowship. Perhaps those hated tax collectors are listed separately because they spent their days dealing with payment for what is owed. No one was exempt from the tax, so everyone had to pay it. Of all people, they should have understood the universal debt of sin and the payment that must be made. 

Regardless, most of the people in the crowd understood Jesus's words, and understood the rightness of them. They had been baptized with "the baptism of John", which meant they had been baptized as a symbol of their repentance for sin and God's forgiveness. To be baptized in this way meant they had heard John preach that all had sinned. These people understood that there is no one who is righteous except Jesus. 

One very important point in this verse is easily overlooked. They understood the equality in the Kingdom of God because of their baptism, and because of the teaching they had received and embraced that led to their baptism. Because they understood that they had all sinned grievously, they understood that not one was better than another, not even John. 

That precious prophet John the Baptizer had not sought accolades, but had communicated his own unworthiness before Jesus in such an effective way that, when Jesus said John was greatest and least, the crowd immediately understood it. This is a powerful example for us today. We are all leaders for someone. Are we as careful as John to avoid the adoration of the crowd? Are we as careful as John to point the way to Jesus. His motto and his life goal could be summed up in one simple verse. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30 NASB). That should be our life goal as well. 

Pray today that our witness will be so effective that we point only to Jesus and not to ourselves and so attractive that our loved ones will be irresistibly drawn to Christ. 
Link to last might's post: