WHAT WENT YE OUT TO SEE?
Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Matthew 11:7 ¶ And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
In the first six verses of this chapter we find the Lord Jesus speaking to John the Baptist’s disciples about himself. Then in verses seven through fifteen we find him speaking to his followers about John the Baptist.
For this period is an extremely decisive time in God’s relation to mankind. Until this time God hath spoken to the fathers by the prophets. But these events bring in “the last days,” wherein God shall speak by none other than his own Son. And this day is clearly defined by Christ’s completed redemption and ascension to his throne! Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
And in our text we have the very words of God the Son informing us of the decisive change from the past times into the new kingdom of Christ brought forth by these very events. Carefully focus on his words revealing this abrupt change. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. Then he sets forth the last prophesy in the Old Testament scriptures as being fulfilled by the appearance of John the Baptist. For Malachi 4:5,6 (the very last verses in the Old Testament), state that the new age would not appear until Elijah should come to issue it in. And the Lord Jesus states that John the Baptist fulfills that requirement!
John the Baptist is the porter who opens the door of the sheepfold to the only true Shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ. For all the “sheep” in the region had come to John. Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
And John clearly proclaimed that he was not the Christ – the hoped for Messiah. But he loudly and publicly proclaimed that Jesus of Nazareth was the very “Lamb of God” come to take away “the sin of the world.” John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
John knew better than anyone who the Lord Jesus was! It was revealed to him, the only living human being given this revelation by the Holy Spirit. John 1:30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
When twice he states, “I knew him not,” he is speaking of not having any natural awareness who the promised Messiah was! Of course he knew who Mary’s son Jesus was. Their mothers were cousins. (Luke 1:36) But he was stating that it was not a conclusion drawn from his own mind. He only knew the Messiah by a special revelation of the Holy Spirit.
John 3:25 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
Therefore, as that passage reveals, John was concerned with the revelation of the Lord Jesus to his own disciples. And this gives us the reason why he sent two of them to Jesus. He wanted them to be influenced by their personal encounter with the very Son of God, in order to be progressed on into Christ’s disciples!
For as we have previously stated, John the Baptist was the porter who opened the sheepfold to the good Shepherd. John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. Therefore neither John the Baptist, nor the Lord Jesus were “strangers.” For the Lord’s elect sheep have two effectual things — hearing ears and following feet! Revelation 14:4 These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
John 1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
John could honestly say that he was not Elijah! For he was not that prophet incarnate! But the Lord Jesus could truthfully state that John was Elijah. For he came not in the person of Elijah, but “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” (Luke 1:17) We made the words of Matthew 11:14 bold in our above listed text, wherein the Lord Jesus emphatically states, And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
And also in Matthew 17 it could not be clearer stated that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophesy of Malachi 4:5,6. Matthew 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
For those last two verses in the Old Testament, (Malachi 4:5,6), instruct us that for “great and dreadful day of the LORD” to come, that day must be preceded by the appearance of Elijah. And as has already been clearly shown in this article, that the Lord Jesus said that John the Baptist fulfilled that prophesy!
Now if anyone just has to have the appearance of the physical person of Elijah, let them read Luke 9:28-36. For therein is the account of the representatives of the law (Moses), and of the prophets (Elijah), appearing to the Lord as his personal glory is revealed by his fulfilling all of both! Luke 9:29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For Christ’s glory is the glory that excelleth! 2 Corinthians 3:9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
But why all the confusion concerning these matters in religion today? It is because the Lord Jesus is not only the chief cornerstone for the building of the true church, he is at the same time the rock of offense to cause the stumbling and offense of all other religion! 1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
We must remember that the cloudy pillar that came between the fleeing Israelites and the pursuing Egyptians was light to the Lord’s people, but it beamed darkness to the Egyptians. And we must realize that the Lord God is highly offended at those who believe not on his Son. For just as then, those who believe not in our day are sent the darkness of his “strong delusion!” Exodus 11:7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The human race has been afforded the most glorious gift, beyond imagination! We have been afforded the very blood and atonement of the Eternal Son of God! The glorious King has sent forth his Son into our world to give us opportunity of reconciliation to Himself! He has made his Son to be responsible for our sin in order the we might have the very righteousness of God in him! Unbelievable! Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
If one goes to heaven, it is totally of God’s grace and mercy! Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; But if one goes to Hell, it is entirely his own fault! John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Don’t waste your pandemic folks! Our separation from society should be a time of separation unto God!
Pastor Gene Breed
April 21, 2020