Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses eighteen through thirty-five of the seventh chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find something recorded that was only recorded in one other place within the New Testament gospels, and that is within the gospel which was written concerning Jesus Christ by the apostle Matthew. As you approach and come to this particular passage within the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the beloved physician you will find him building upon the momentum of that which Jesus accomplished in the village of Nain. You will recall in the opening verses of the seventh chapter that Jesus healed the centurions Servant based upon his faith which not only understood the worth and value of the Servant, but also the authority that was found within Jesus to but speak and say the word and his Servant would be healed. Upon hearing this centurions statement and declaration of faith we find Jesus marveling at his faith and declaring that He had not seen so great a faith in all Israel. Here was a Roman centurion who wasn’t even a descendant of the children of Israel and yet his faith and his understanding of authority caused Jesus to marvel at his understanding of authority and declaration of faith. What we find within this account is not even Jesus declaring unto the centurion that his servant was healed, but rather in the same hour when the centurion spoke with Jesus his servant was healed. Marveling at the tremendous faith that was demonstrated by the centurion Jesus performed a miracle within the life of this servant and caused the sickness which would have led to death to be turned back and reversed.
As you continue reading within the opening verses of this seventh chapter you will find that immediately after Jesus healed this centurions servant—on the very next day He was traveling and came to the town of nain. It was in this small town of nain when Jesus saw a funeral procession coming forth out of the town as a widows only son had died and lie in a coffin to prepare for burial. It’s worth noting that not only did Jesus see and notice the funeral procession, but He also noticed the tremendous emotional weight and burden of this widow as evidenced and manifested through and by her tears. Moved to and moved with compassion Jesus looked at the coffin into which the young lad had been laid and placed his hand on the coffin and declared unto the boy to rise from his place in the coffin. Jesus—unwilling to see this funeral procession go on any longer—touched the place where this young lad had been laid and emphatically and boldly declared unto him to get up and to rise from his place within the coffin. It’s worth noting that immediately after the declaration of Jesus the Christ to this young lad the boy rose within the coffin, sat up and began talking and speaking with those who were present. Whereas in the case of the Roman centurions servant Jesus prevented death, in the case of the son of this widow, Jesus turned back and reversed death, thus causing this lad to come back to life. How absolutely wonderful and amazing it is to think about and consider the fact that within the course of seventeen verses we find Jesus in one place preventing death by healing one, and reversing death by raising from death to life another. It’s worth noting that this would not be the first time Jesus would raise one from the dead, for if you read the gospel accounts you will find that Jesus also raises the daughter of Jairus who was a ruler in one of the synagogues. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus raise the daughter of this ruler of the synagogue, but Jesus also caused Lazarus to be raised from death to life after he had been buried in the grave for four days.
What I so absolutely love and appreciate when reading the words which are found within the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by Luke is that after Jesus had raised from death to life the only son of this widow, the whole town was filled with wonder and amazement at the work which Jesus had done. Luke records that after Jesus had caused the only son of this widow to rise from death to life, there was a great awe and wonder that filled the hearts of all those who were present within the town—those who saw the lifeless body being carried out, and those who saw the lifeless body come back to life and the son of this widow being returned to his mother. IN fact, I am convinced that if we are to understand that which is found in the verses following these two wonders of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is imperative for us to think about and consider what happened in Nain after Jesus raised this only son of this widow from death to life. The account of the resurrection of this widow’s son is found and recorded in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke and is found beginning with the eleventh verse and continuing through to the seventeenth verse. Consider if you will that which is written within this passage beginning with the eleventh verse of this particular chapter:
“And it came to pass the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and much people. Now when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare Him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and That God hath visited His people. And this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about” (Luke 7:11-17).
Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of that which is found written and recorded within this particular set of verses—particularly that which is found in verses sixteen and seventeen. If you read these two verses you will find that after Jesus had raised this man from death to life and gave him back to his mother, a great fear came upon all, and they all glorified God, saying that a great prophet had risen up among them, and that God had visited His people. What’s more, is that in the seventeenth verse we find that there began to a rumor concerning Jesus which would go forth t hroughout all Judaea and throughout the region round about. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we consider that which is found within these two verses, for within these two verses we find the context for the events which take place in the verses which come immediately after. In verses sixteen and seventeen we find a great fear coming upon the people, as well as a great many people glorifying God declaring that a great prophet had been raised up among them; however, we also find a rumor and report concerning Jesus going forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about. The reality and concept of this rumor which began to be spread and circulated within and throughout the region is incredibly important, for it forms and shapes the context for what we find and read beginning with the eighteenth verse. In the eighteenth verse we find the disciples of John the Baptist showing unto him all these things which Jesus had done and performed among men within the earth. It’s incredibly interesting to think about and consider the fact that immediately after we read of a great fame concerning Jesus spreading throughout the region, the disciples of John took all they had heard concerning Jesus the Christ, and all that He had done among men within the earth, and brought this report back to John. This is actually quite interesting and remarkable when you consider and think about it, for at this point in time John the Baptist had been put in prison by Herod. Though it is not expressed within this particular passage within the New Testament gospel of Luke, we find the account of John the Baptist being put into prison in the fourth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. In fact, I am convinced that in order for us to understand the tremendous significance and importance of what is taking place within this particular passage of Scripture, it is necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the life of John the Baptist—particularly during these days, for though John the Baptist emerged from the wilderness like a flash of lightning, his ministry would not last forever, and he would eventually and ultimately be thrown and cast into prison. Consider if you will the words which are found within the fourth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament gospel of Matthew concerning John the Baptist and his being cast into prison by Herod the Great:
“Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Essie’s the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nepthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:12-16).
“And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, He sent two of His disciples, and said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew 11:1-6).
With these two passages within the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find that John the Baptist had in fact been cast into prison, although we aren’t provided the details regarding how and why he was cast into prison. IN order to understand the nature and reason why John the Baptist would have been cast into prison it is necessary to turn and direct your attention to the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. It’s in the New Testament gospel of Matthew where we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding John the Baptist being cast into prison, for it’s within this passage we not only encounter in greater detail the events surrounding John’s being cast into prison, but we also encounter that which would happen to John while in prison. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find the following words which describe the events surrounding John’s being cast into prison, and ultimately his beheading which would also take place while he was there in the prison. Consider if you will that which is found within this passage of Scripture beginning with the first verse of the fourteenth chapter:
“At that time Herod the terrace heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before him, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:1-12).
In this particular portion of Scripture—not only do we read concerning John the Baptist being cast into prison, but we uncover the reason why he was cast into prison. It is within this passage of Scripture where we learn and discover that the reason John was cast into prison was because he dared confront the immorality and adultery of Herod because of his brother Philip’s wife. In addition to confronting the sins of the people and calling them to be baptized unto repentance and remission for sins, John would directly confront Herod the tetrarch of Judaea at that time, and would directly confront his adultery and immorality with his brother’s wife. As a direct result of the words which John the Baptist spoke unto him, Herod initially thought to put John to death, but for fear of the people thought better of carrying out the act. Instead of putting John the Baptist to death, Herod would instead cast him into prison and would leave him there all the rest of his days. Eventually and ultimately there would come the day of Herod’s birthday, and it would be on his birthday where he would be manipulated by his brother Philip’s wife to behead John the Baptist and to have his head brought unto her in a charger. It would be through the performance of her daughter which so pleased Herod that Herod would eventually and ultimately give the order for John the Baptist to be beheaded, and his head brought unto the damsel in a charger. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for within this passage we learn and discover the events surrounding John’s being cast into prison, for John was cast into prison because of his confrontation of sin within the life of Herod the great. In the earlier chapters within the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find and read that John was cast into prison, however, we aren’t given any details and any information regarding how or why John was cast into prison. It isn’t until three chapters later where we encounter the truth surrounding John’s being cast into prison, for it would be in response to his confrontation of sin that John would be cast into prison by Herod. What’s more, is that within the gospels we find that not only was John the Baptist cast into prison, but he also would not taste and experience freedom once being cast into prison, for it would be there in prison where he would meet his death at the edge of a sword when his head was severed from his body according to the word and order of Herod the great.
When we come to the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke we find that when the report began to be circulated concerning Jesus, the disciples of John brought this report concerning Jesus the Christ unto John. In this particular chapter we find and read of the disciples of John showing unto him all the things which they had heard—and perhaps even witnessed themselves—concerning Jesus the Christ. Though it is not expressed within this particular chapter, we learn that when the disciples showed unto him all the things which they had heard and witnessed of Jesus the Christ, John the Baptist was held up in a prison cell. It is not expressed or explained within this passage, but we learn from the account of the apostle Matthew that at this time John was in prison. This is actually quite interesting, for it would be there in prison where John the Baptist would hear of the works of Jesus the Christ, although he would not be able to witness and experience them himself. There was John the Baptist bound within a prison cell—perhaps within the city of Jerusalem—and yet outside the four walls of that prison cell the glory and power of God was being manifested among men within the earth. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that John the Baptist was bound in prison being the bars of that cell, and yet outside those bars, and outside the four walls of that cell, the works, the power, and the glory of God was being manifested. Imagine what it was like for John the Baptist—the one who had preached concerning this Jesus Christ, and even prepared a people for His emergence and arrival—to be bound in prison while the works, the power and the glory of God was on full display beyond the cell. BEYOND THE CELL THE POWER OF GOD IS BEING MANIFESTED! Consider what it must and would have been like for John the Baptist to be confined within that prison cell, and to hear of the works which Jesus was performing among men—although he physically wasn’t able to see and witness them. Consider what it must have been like for John to be bound in that prison cell, and in and from his place of bondage he heard of the mighty works of Jesus Christ which were being performed among men within the earth. Consider what it must have been like for John the Baptist to be confined to a state and place of bondage within a prison cell, and yet from that place of bondage he would hear about the great wonders and great works of God being performed among men within the earth. Though he would not physically see, witness and behold the wonderful works of Jesus the Christ being performed among men within the earth, he would hear reports of all that was being done by Jesus in the earth among men.
What I find to be so incredibly unique about the account of John the Baptist and his disciples as written and presented by the beloved physician Luke is that it begins with the disciples of John who were outside the prison cell bringing him report concerning the works of Christ which were being performed among men within the earth. The account of John the Baptist and his disciples within this particular passage of Scripture begins with the disciples of John showing him all the things which Jesus the Christ was doing and performing in the earth—showing unto him the wonderful power and glory of God which was being performed within the earth among men. Imagine what it must have been like for John the Baptist to hear and listen to his disciples speak and boast of the mighty works of Jesus the Christ, and yet not only would John the Baptist not behold and witness those works himself, but he also would not have and experience any interaction with Jesus during the time he was in prison. In fact, Scripture seems to suggest that when Jesus heard that John had been cast into prison, He removed Himself and departed into Galilee in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled concerning a light shining and breaking forth in the darkness. Not only would Jesus not come and visit John in prison, but when He heard that John had been cast into prison, He removed Himself and began to dwell in Galilee where He would perform great works among men within the earth. Eventually the disciples of John would hear of the works of Jesus the Christ, and they would bring the report of the works of Jesus the Christ back to John the Baptist. After hearing the great report of the works which Jesus the Christ would perform in the earth, the disciples of John would take this report back to John in prison. What’s so unique and interesting about this is that we aren’t given any indication as to what the disciples of John hoped to accomplish by bringing report of the works of Christ back to John there in the prison. Did they think and believe that by speaking unto John concerning the works of Jesus the Christ they would somehow encourage him in that place of loneliness, solitude and bondage? Did they bring unto him a report of Jesus the Christ and the works which He was performing in the earth in an attempt to somehow encourage John in that place of discouragement, in that place of despair, and even in that place of being disheartened and discontent? Scripture is unclear as to why the disciples of John brought report of the works of Jesus back to John there in the prison cell, but we do know for certain that they did in fact visit John in prison, and upon their visit to John there in prison, they would speak unto him concerning the works which Jesus the Christ was performing within the earth.
The account of the disciples of John and their speaking unto him concerning the works which Jesus Christ was performing among men within the earth is actually quite unique when you think about and consider it, for the beloved physician Luke records something completely different than that which the apostle Matthew writes and records. As you read this passage of Scripture you will find that the disciples of John initially showed unto him the works which Jesus the Christ would perform among men within the earth, and upon John’s hearing of the works which Jesus the Christ would perform among men within and upon the earth, he would send two of his disciples directly to Jesus. What’s more, is that both Matthew and Luke describe why John sent these two disciples directly unto Jesus, for he sent them with a very specific purpose. If you read both the gospel account of the apostle Matthew, as well as that of the beloved physician Luke you will find that John sent these two disciples unto Jesus asking and inquiring of Him whether or not He was the one who was to come, or whether or not they should look for another. In other words, John the Baptist wanted to know if Jesus was in fact the one they had been anticipating and expecting to come, or whether or not they should look for and expect another. There in the prison cell John the Baptist was facing discouragement, despair, and perhaps even a host of other emotions and thoughts—particularly concerning Jesus the Christ—and in direct response to these emotions and thoughts, he sent two of his disciples unto Jesus inquiring whether or not he was the one whom they should look for. It was there in the prison cell where John the Baptist was growing bitter towards, and even offended in and with Jesus the Christ, for not only had he been cast into prison, but he would be cast into prison and would not hear anything from Jesus the Christ. Here were his disciples speaking unto him concerning the great works which Jesus was performing, and yet merely hearing about the works of Jesus Christ wasn’t completely satisfactory for John the Baptist. Imagine hearing of the works of Christ from others when what you truly want and what you truly desire is to actually experience the presence of Christ. Imagine desiring an experience with the presence of Jesus Christ, and imagine desiring an audience with Jesus the Christ, and yet all you are experiencing are reports concerning the works which Jesus the Christ is performing in the earth within the lives of others. I am sure John the Baptist desired an audience with Jesus—if not at least only once—while he was in prison, and yet instead of finding himself speaking with Jesus there in the prison cell, he would hear reports concerning the works of Jesus the Christ from his disciples.
SEEKING AN AUDIENCE WITH JESUS, YET ONLY HEARING CONCERNING HIS WORKS! It would be there in the prison cell where John the Baptist would grow discouraged, and perhaps even bitter and offended with the one whom He proclaimed was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, for that which he desired and longed for was an audience with Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that not only could John have grown discouraged because he was cast into prison in the first place, but while there in prison he would not experience the presence and person of Jesus. Christ at all. As if this weren’t bad enough—instead of experiencing the person and presence of Jesus the Christ, John would find himself hearing reports of the works which Jesus the Christ was performing among men within the earth. It would there in the prison cell where John would receive report concerning the works which Jesus would perform among men within the earth, and it would be in this response where doubt would begin to settle into his heart. In all reality, I would dare say that it was doubt and discouragement within the heart of John the Baptist which caused him to send two of his disciples unto Jesus to inquire whether or not he would be the one whom they should look for, or whether or not they should look for another. What’s is so unique about these two disciples which were sent by John unto Jesus is that Luke writes and records how when these two disciples came unto Jesus, they declared unto him that John had sent them unto Him to ask whether or not He was the one who was to come, or whether they should look for another. In the gospel account of the apostle Matthew we find it recorded how Jesus simply declared unto these two disciples that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them. In the gospel account of Luke, however, we find something additional within this interaction. As you read the gospel account which the beloved physician Luke wrote you will find that within the same hour Jesus heard and listened to the question of the disciples of John, He cured many infirmities and plagues, drove out many evil spirits, and unto those which were blind he gave sight. I happen to find this to be truly remarkable and astounding, for at the beginning of this portion of Scripture we find the disciples of John showing unto him all the things which were taking place—perhaps those things which they had heard concerning Jesus. The seventeenth verse concludes with a rumor concerning Jesus Christ going forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about. It might very well be that when the disciples of John brought back report concerning Jesus the Christ to John there in prison, they were simply relaying unto him that which they had heard concerning Jesus the Christ. It might very well be that when they initially came unto John while in prison, they were merely reporting unto him those things which they heard rather than those things which they had witnessed themselves firsthand.
What I so love about Luke’s description of these events within the life of John the Baptist is that while Luke doesn’t speak of John being cast into prison—only that his disciples were speaking unto him concerning the works of Christ which were being performed in the earth—he describes how when the two disciples which were sent by John asked Jesus whether or not He was the one who was to come, or whether or not they should look for another, Jesus in that same hour cured many infirmities and plagues, drove out countless evil spirits, and unto many that were blind He gave sight. In other words, when these two disciples of John would be sent back unto him there in prison, they would not only relay unto him the words which Jesus the Christ spoke, but they would also relay something much more notable, and much more powerful. It was true that they would return unto John with a declaration that the blind see, that the lame walk, that the lepers were cleansed, that the deaf hear, that the dead are raised, and that the poor have the gospel preached unto them, but they also returned with something more powerful than simply a description of what had already happened in the past. When these two disciples returned unto John there in that prison cell, they returned with firsthand knowledge and a firsthand experience with the glory and power of God. Matthew simply records how Jesus sent these two disciples back to John with a declaration of the works which Jesus had done within the earth, while Luke records how Jesus performed those works in the sight and hearing of these two disciples, and even sent them back with a statement and declaration of those things which they both saw and heard. In other words, when these two disciples would return back to John, they would not only return to him with mere reports concerning the works of Christ, but would actually return with experience and encounter. These disciples would witness and experience firsthand concerning the works which Jesus the Christ would perform in the earth, as they would not only hear the works of Christ themselves, but they would also witness the works of Christ firsthand. When they returned unto John the Baptist there in that prison cell, they would not merely return with reports concerning Jesus, nor even a statement of Jesus concerning that which He had performed within the earth, but they would return with a statement of those things which they had heard and seen. Oh that we would understand the tremendous power of experience and encounter, and that we would understand the power of beholding and witnessing firsthand the wonderful works of Jesus Christ ourselves as opposed to simply hearing them.
What I find to be truly unique concerning this particular interaction between Jesus and the disciples of John is that Jesus didn’t emphatically declare that He was the One who was to come, or whether or not John should look for another. In all reality, it almost appears as though Jesus didn’t even answer the question at all. The disciples of John came unto Jesus asking Him a very specific question, and yet rather than answering their question and sending them back with a specific answer to John’s question, He demonstrated the works of God among men, as well as manifested the power and glory of God within the earth. I am convinced there is something truly remarkable and astounding about this particular reality, for it’s almost as if Jesus was allowing the works which He was performing among men in the earth define and describe who He was. In fact, it would be later on in the gospel of John where Jesus would declare unto others to believe on Him for the sake of the works which He Himself would perform. In other words, there was a certain power in the works which Jesus Christ would perform among men within the earth that would call men and women into a place of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Though Jesus would not definitively answer the question of John the Baptist, He would demonstrate the power and glory of God among men within the earth, and would send the disciples back with an encounter and experience they would never forget. It is almost as if Jesus was allowing the works themselves to answer the question and doubt of John, and to even allow those works to allow John to answer the question himself. WHEN JESUS LEADS YOU INTO THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTIONS! WHEN JESUS BRINGS YOU INTO THE PLACE OF ANSWERING YOUR OWN QUESTION! I am completely and utterly convinced that there are times within our lives when Jesus may not give us the answer to the question or questions we ask, and will instead demonstrate the power and glory of God within our lives, and then allow us to answer our own question. It is possible that there might be times within our lives when we are seeking for the Lord to answer the question(s) we have, and yet instead of answering those questions, He directs and guides us into the answer to those questions by demonstrating the power and glory of God within our lives. This is actually quite difficult for us, because more often than not we want answers to our questions, and we want the Lord to answer those questions, and yet rather than answering the questions we bring to Him, He demonstrates His power and then allows us to answer our own questions, and even decide for ourselves. Perhaps the single greatest lesson we must learn within this passage of Scripture is not only the tremendous power of our being led to the answer(s) to our question(s), but also in the incredible power in our being able to decide for ourselves whether or not we believe, and whether or not Jesus is who He said He was, and whether or not Jesus is the one whom the Law and the prophets spoke of. Perhaps the greatest reality we must find within this passage of Scripture is found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John. I leave you with the following words which are written and recorded in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John in verses thirty-seven and thirty-eight, and I call you to enter into the answer(s) to our question(s) and deciding for yourself whether or not Jesus is who He said He was, and whether or not you believe in Him as the Messiah and Christ:
“If I do. Not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38).