Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3
Thesis: The message from heaven is that being self-absorbed, without repentance, will result in God's fiery judgment.
Introduction: Because John, the son of Zacharias, was ultimately known as a "baptizer" of people unto the message that repentance alone will deliver one from the wrath of God (Luke 3:7), Jesus deliberately chose to confront the massive crowd of people with what they "saw" when they went out in the wilderness to see (and hear) him. Though there is a myriad of details in both physical creation and divine revelation (Psalm 19), there are occasions when the vast majority of those details are swept aside in order to place a central principle "front and center". With three questions, Jesus did such a "sweep job". When He asked whether the people had found John to be a reed, both influenced and broken by the wind, He was asking them to decide if he, and his message, was believable.
This morning we are going to look at the second question/answer that Jesus set before the people: when you went out to see John, was he wearing the garments of royalty? This question, like the prior one, was Jesus' way of asking the people to decide something about John and his message. What that "something" is will be the issue beneath our magnifying glass this morning.
September 28, 2008
- I. Jesus' Focus Upon Clothes.
- A. His focus was upon an extremely fundamental "outer" exhibit of the inner person.
- 1. Clothing (or the lack of it) is enormously "telling" and people intuitively know, and respond, to its message.
- a. There are those who do not wish to be "judged" by outer appearances so that they may "wear what they please" without others deciding anything "negative" about them, but the wish is an hypocritical dream.
- 1) Those who do not wish to be subject to the opinions of others about them by reason of their clothing form opinions about others by reason of their clothing (thus, the hypocrisy).
- 2) Those who do not wish to be subject to the opinions of others about them by reason of their clothing are subject to the formation of those opinions and there is nothing they can do about it (thus, the dream).
- b. People respond to clothing intuitively and subliminally.
- 1) The illustrations can be stacked up for hours.
- 2) There is no effective argument against it: 1 Samuel 16:7 (this is a fact without regard for its "morality").
- 2. John's clothing was biblically, intentionally, "telling".
- a. What John wore was well known because everyone who saw him saw the same thing: camel's hair and a leather belt.
- b. In Zachariah 13:4 the Bible prophesies of a coming day when prophets will wish to "deceive" those who see them into thinking that they are not prophets and they will pursue this by their choice of "clothes".
- c. In 2 Kings 1:8 the Bible tells us that Elijah was immediately recognizable because of his leather belt.
- d. When the people went out in the wilderness to "see" John, part of the reason they listened to his message was that what they saw predisposed them to the claims of their eyes.
- 1) Most of them had been told of Malachi 4:5 (see Mark 9:11).
- 2) Given their knowledge that Elijah was to come before the great and terrible Day of the Lord, it was no surprise to them to hear John say things like...
- a) ... who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (3:7)
- b) ... the axe is already laid at the root of the trees (3:9)
- c) ... He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (3:17).
- 3. Jesus said that "soft", "glorious", "luxurious" clothes meant a "royal" mentality.
- a. Jesus here said that clothes tell us stuff about their wearers.
- b. What Jesus said is true and what clothes tell us might be true.
- 1) There is always (Zachariah 13:4) the possibility that someone is attempting to deceive us.
- 2) But the norm is that clothes really do reveal the person's attitude.
- II. Jesus' Focus Upon What John Did Not Wear.
- A. When He asked His question, He knew that His audience knew the answer -- thus, He did not even mention what John did wear (this was the elephant in the room).
- B. When He asked His question, He was deliberately compelling His audience to deal with whether they "wished to be clothed with the privileges of royalty" or "wished to be forgiven": this was not a both/and issue; it was either/or.
- C. The facts of the context are these:
- 1. John did not wear an attitude of "royalty".
- 2. He was in prison because of someone who did.
- 3. His message was true.
- a. The coming wrath will abide upon those who wear the attitude of royalty.
- b. The axe is already laid at the root of those who wear this attitude.
- c. The chaff of Herod and Herodias were on the verge of being burned up with unquenchable fire.
- III. Conclusion.
- A. When Jesus asked if John was a broken reed, He was asking if his message was "believable".
- B. When Jesus asked if John was wearing "royal" clothes, He was asking if his goals were "valuable".