Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3
September 28, 2008
25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
1901 ASV Translation:
25 But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
26 But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27 This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way before thee.
28 I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there is none greater than John: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
29 And all the people when they heard, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
- I. The Man "Clothed in Soft Raiment".
- A. With this question Jesus pits John's example against the second most critical "mindset" of people.
- 1. The first most critical "mindset" had to do with John's vacillation by reason of his imprisonment and the impact that could have upon the observers.
- a. As this is a matter of "faith" and its validity when all goes "wrong", it is of very great significance and must be addressed.
- b. Jesus challenged the opinion that might be formed: John is an unstable reed, destroyed by the impact of the winds of imprisonment.
- 2. The second most critical "mindset" has to do with whether John had any part or lot with "royalty".
- a. The clothing of "royalty" is both self-pampering and self-exalting.
- 1) The issue of "royalty". This is the only time in the New Testament that this word, in this form, is used. It is derived from the typical term for a "king" as the "authoritative foundation" of the relational society for which he functions as both law giver and law enforcer. In the Kingdom of God, the rules and enforcement emerge from the character of Elohim. In the kingdoms of this world, the rules and enforcement arise out of the character of those who attain, by whatever means, to the position of "sovereignty" (the position of final dominion).
- 2) The issue of "clothing". John, it is well known, wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt (Matthew 3:4 and Mark 1:6). Both of these items of dress were highly significant for the impact that they made. Zechariah 13:4 speaks of a day when the "prophets" will seek to deceive others into thinking that they are not prophets by refusing to wear the "universally recognized" garment of a prophet. In 2 Kings 1:8, as soon as the king hears that the person in question wears a "leather belt", he says, "It is Elijah the Tishbite." Because these items of "clothing" had such a profound "outer witness" to the "psyche" of the people, John's use of them was both deliberate and totally inexcusable if he was not an "Elijah-prophet" sent from God. By the same token, garments that were notably "soft" and "glorious" and "luxurious" were outer tokens of a completely self-absorbed mindset.
- b. It belies an attitude: "life" is the best when we are pampered and treated like royalty by others.
- c. Because this is a frontal attack upon God as Life, it is a most crucial issue.
- d. By bringing this issue into play, Jesus deliberately reminded the people of the reason John was imprisoned.
- 1) Luke's terminology was this: "Herod ... being reproved ... for Herodias ... and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison" (Luke 3:19-20).
- 2) The issue is this: men can go along with evil or reprove it, but they will have to live with what they choose to do. But, "living with" their choice involves a central question: what is Life and where does it come from? Every person who decides that "Life" is anything but the fullness of joy is simply thoughtless, but everyone that decides that it comes from anyone/anything but God is more than thoughtless: they are evil. Idolatry is evil. Attributing the abilities of God to other entities is idolatry.
- B. With this question Jesus insists that people make a fundamental decision about "wealth".
- 1. Jesus said the issue swirls around "royalty".
- 2. The issue of "royalty" is the issue of dominion, i.e., the exercise of power over others.
- a. The thoughtless and immature long for wealth so as to buy toys and to indulge themselves.
- b. The more calculating long for wealth so that they may determine policy and exercise power over others.
- 3. There is a reason that men despise "authority" in others and long for it for themselves.
- a. At the very heart of antagonism towards those in authority is the very real antipathy men have for God. It is no accident that it is the sovereign God Who elicits the most antagonism, not the merciful God.
- b. At the very heart of Luke's record of antagonism toward Jesus is the central thesis: He claims to be "the authoritative one".
- C. With this question Jesus compels the people to recognize how great of an offense against heaven is the willingness to be "wealthy unto self-direction; otherdirection; and comprehensive self-indulgence (of body, soul, and spirit)".