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God’s Word for You

Luke 7:24-25 John the prophet

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

24 After John’s messengers had left, Jesus began to talk to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 No. Then what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Yet those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces.

Having answered John’s disciples, Jesus now asks his own followers and the crowds nearby about John. They had gone out to see him—what did they go out to see? What were they expecting, and what did they find? In these two verses, there are two different Greek words translated “to see.” The words are forms of theaomai (θεάoμαι) and horao (ὁράω). Both generally mean “see,” but when they appear together like this, theaomai means more specifically “to look over, take a look at,” and the second word, horao, means “notice.” We see another example of this in Matthew 22:11, where Jesus says, “the king came in to see (take a look at) the guests, and he noticed a man…” So the people of Galilee went out to get a look at John, but Jesus asks, what did they notice?

What was their reason for going out to see John? Was it to discover that he was “a reed shaken by the wind?” A wishy-washy teacher, a man with no answers and no words to share? Who would have gone out to see him if that’s what he was? What did they discover when they went out? Was he all decked out in soft (the word can even mean “effeminate”) clothes? No. Beautiful clothes are for glorious palaces. That’s not the kind of stuff that regular people wear at home, and it’s certainly not what John was wearing out in the wilderness.

This is the only reference to John’s clothing in Luke’s Gospel. He didn’t dress like the people of Jerusalem or Galilee. He dressed like one of the Old Testament prophets, wearing “a prophet’s garment of hair” (Zechariah 13:4; 2 Kings 1:8). He didn’t go out into the wilderness to visit or sightsee. He went out there to live, to work, and as far as he knew, to spend his whole life there, and so he dressed in the rough and hardy clothes of an outdoorsman in those days. Today he’d be wearing denim or something equally hardy.

The people went out expecting to see a prophet, and they saw John. They all believed that John really was a prophet of God. So the conclusion Jesus is drawing is this: John was a great teacher and prophet, and the people should not be amazed even he was asking Jesus questions. Jesus was beginning something new: The New Testament. No longer would God be sending prophets, which had been going on since the days of Samuel. Now he would work through pastors and teachers, to proclaim the words of Christ. His preaching was accompanied by his great miracles. He said, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (John 14:11). Jesus shows his love for us by giving us more than we need to put our faith in him. He gave us his sacrifice, his miracles, his preaching, and his promises.

We trust Jesus because we know that through him we have forgiveness and eternal life. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and he pointed to Jesus first. We keep on pointing back to Jesus, now and always.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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