Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Luke 7:18-35

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Answering Men from John the Baptist - Luke 7:18-35

Jesus encouraged John's wavering faith. He also affirmed God's plan and rebuked those who were opposed to it.

Luke 7:18

Though John was in prison (3:18-20; Matt. 11:2), he had contact with his disciples who told him of Jesus's teaching and miracles.

Luke 7:19-20

John heard the divine affirmation of Jesus (Matt. 3:13-17) and declared that Jesus was the lamb of God (John 1:29). Thus, he expected messianic blessings as well as judgment (3:15-17). But such things did not happen in the time or manner that he expected. Understandably, John questioned whether or not he was really the Christ.

Luke 7:21-22

Jesus responded to John with great kindness. In the presence of John's disciples, he performed many miracles which displayed his power and authority. Jesus then intentionally pointed to six works: blind . . . receiving sight (4:18; 18:35-43; Isa. 29:18; 35:5; 42:18), lame . . . walking (5:17-26; Isa. 34:56; Acts 3:1-10; 8:7; 14:8-10), lepers . . . cleansed (5:12-16; 17:11-19; 2 Kgs. 5:1-19), deaf . . . hearing (1:22, 64; 11:14; Isa. 29:18; 35:5; 42:18), dead . . . raised (7:11-17; 8:40-56; 1 Kgs. 17:17-24; Isa. 26:19; Acts 9:36-43), needy . . . told good news (4:18; 6:20; Isa 61:1). As noted, all of these are specific messianic promises from Isaiah. John also understood his role as the forerunner promised by Isaiah (see 3:4-6 and notes). Thus, Jesus wanted to encourage John's faith by showing the fulfillment of these promises (see Matt. 12:20). The blessings of the kingdom were dawning, though judgment would come later.

Luke 7:23

Jesus's actions may cause some to doubt, but those that persevere in faith will be blessed. This was directed at John, but true for all who encounter Jesus through the Scriptures in every age.

Luke 7:24-26

Jesus asked a variation of the question What did you see? three times. This repetition pushed the people toward a true understanding of John. Jesus challenged any thoughts of John's insignificance by reminding the people why they went to hear John preach. He was a true prophet (vv. 26, 28). In this way, Jesus vindicated John despite his momentary wavering (see note on vv. 19-20). Understanding John would lead to understanding Jesus.

Luke 7:24

reed shaken. Picture of something weak and wavering. John was the opposite. He spoke with clarity and conviction, decried sin and hypocrisy, and called people to God (3:1-18). John's uncompromising convictions against Herod and his regime had ended with John in prison. Still he did not waver. 3:19-20).

Luke 7:25

soft . . . expensive clothing. Representative of those who enjoyed an easy life marked by luxury. By contrast, John lived a rugged lifestyle. He wore rough clothing and lived in the wilderness (3:2; Matt. 3:4).

Luke 7:26-27

John was the greatest prophet (see note on v. 28). He was the hinge between the old and new covenants who prepared the way for the promised Christ (see notes on 3:4-6). His ministry did not ease consciences. He preached a strong message of repentance and faith and prepared people for Jesus.

Luke 7:28

none is greater. John is the greatest because he is the final prophet of the old covenant. The previous prophets knew the Christ was coming. But John had the privilege of seeing the Christ come into the world, bringing the kingdom with him. His entire life and ministry was about calling people to be ready to receive Jesus and the salvation he secured. least . . . is greater. Given John's greatness, Jesus's statement about the least of the kingdom is surprising. The difference is that John never saw Jesus in light of the cross and resurrection. He wasn't part of the kingdom Jesus brought, but remained as part of the old covenant. Thus, new covenant Christians have a greater understanding of Jesus and deeper experience of life in him.

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