Validating a Decision: Luke 7:18-35

Focus Passage: Luke 7:18-35 (NCV)

18 John’s followers told him about all these things. He called for two of his followers 19 and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we wait for someone else?”

20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you with this question: ‘Are you the One who is to come, or should we wait for someone else?’”

21 At that time, Jesus healed many people of their sicknesses, diseases, and evil spirits, and he gave sight to many blind people. 22 Then Jesus answered John’s followers, “Go tell John what you saw and heard here. The blind can see, the crippled can walk, and people with skin diseases are healed. The deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor. 23 Those who do not stumble in their faith because of me are blessed!”

24 When John’s followers left, Jesus began talking to the people about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed blown by the wind? 25 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, people who have fine clothes and much wealth live in kings’ palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, and I tell you, John is more than a prophet. 27 This was written about him:

‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare the way for you.’

28 I tell you, John is greater than any other person ever born, but even the least important person in the kingdom of God is greater than John.”

29 (When the people, including the tax collectors, heard this, they all agreed that God’s teaching was good, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and experts on the law refused to accept God’s plan for themselves; they did not let John baptize them.)

31 Then Jesus said, “What shall I say about the people of this time? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace, calling to one another and saying,

‘We played music for you, but you did not dance;
    we sang a sad song, but you did not cry.’

33 John the Baptist came and did not eat bread or drink wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon in him.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! He eats too much and drinks too much wine, and he is a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is proved to be right by what it does.”

Read Luke 7:18-35 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In Jesus’ main teaching about who John the Baptist was, the gospel of Luke includes a side-note that is worth paying attention to. This side-note reveals a key aspect of human nature and it is one that is very relevant for us living today.

Luke describes how the people responded by saying, “When the people, including the tax collectors, heard this, they all agreed that God’s teaching was good, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts on the law refused to accept God’s plan for themselves; they did not let John baptize them.” (v. 29-30)

This is incredibly important for us to notice, because even before Jesus arrived in the spotlight, John the Baptist’s ministry was creating a distinct dividing line between the people. The common people, that also happened to include people as horrible as tax collectors, accepted John’s teaching and were baptized. This led them to be open and receptive to Jesus’ ministry a few years later.

On the other hand, the Pharisees and religious experts rejected or ignored John’s ministry, and because of this, they ultimately rejected Jesus’ ministry as well.

This draws our attention to a key insight in human nature: It is easier to validate a decision you have already made than it is to change your mind.

The religious leaders had decided that John’s new teaching was not significant, relevant, or worthy of attention, and because of this, they simply validated their previous decision when Jesus steps onto the scene. Their closed minds and attitude towards John led them to be closed-minded towards Jesus as well.

But being open-minded towards John the Baptist led people towards being open-minded and accepting of Jesus – and this group of people was the ones Jesus specifically came for. This group of sinners realized their need for a Savior, and Jesus stepped into humanity to be their “Messiah” for eternity.

In our lives today, we should be open to the people God brings our way and test their teaching with what the Bible has taught us God is like. Being open, accepting, and loving are things God has called us to do for each other, but we are also called to test all ideas based on the God who loved us enough to die for us. It is easier to validate previous decisions than to change our minds, so we must be intentional and thoughtful about the decisions we make.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

Subscribe to this blog and never miss an insight.