Although John the Baptist was in prison, he received updates from his disciples about Jesus. While he languished in prison doubts began to assail John so he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
Jesus did not seem in any way put out by this question. He knew that John was feeling a little discouraged because of his situation. It says that at that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.
Then He said to John’s messengers, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Jesus did not just send message to John that He was doing these things. He did them so the messengers were witnesses. When they returned to John they would say, “We saw Him make the blind see, the lame walk, cleanse the lepers and give hearing to the deaf” as opposed to “He said to tell you that He made the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers clean, the deaf hear.”
Jesus told the messengers to let John know that God blesses those who do not turn away because of Him. He did not want doubt and discouragement to ensnare John. After the messengers left to report back to John, Jesus spoke to the crowd about the baptist.
“What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’
“I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.
John was a true prophet who was not a weak man, swayed by the opinions of people. He was a unique messenger who existed on locusts and honey and wore camel’s hair. He was eccentric. But God sent him instead of a person who wore fancy clothes and live in luxury. The tax collectors showed that they were willing to repent when they accepted John’s baptism but the pharisees showed their rejection of God’s message by refusing to be baptized. They rejected both the messenger whom God sent to prepare the way of the Messiah and the Messiah for different reasons. That is what Jesus meant when He compared them with children. ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t weep.’
They would not associate with John even though he followed the strictest of rules or with Jesus when He associated with tax collectors and sinners. They accused John of having a demon and they called Jesus a glutton and a drunkard. Jesus ate and talked with all sorts of people–religious and sinners to show that God loves everyone.
God wants us to be friends to the outcasts. He wants us to communicate His love to them. There are Christians who, like the Pharisees and the scribes who might criticize us for reaching out to the drug addict, the alcoholic, the homeless, the unwed mother but we must remember these words of Jesus ” ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22:39). The love of God can transform the lives of many. It is up to us to spread that love through the Gospel. These people need to know that they have a Savior valued them so greatly that He died for them.
God’s grace is for everyone. It does not discriminate.