A Reed and Soft Clothes
October 28, 2020
What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! But what did you go out to see? (Matthew 11:7-8).
Sometimes things are not as they seem. Sometimes people are more than they appear to be. Such was the case with John the Baptizer. Jesus wanted to know what the people thought of John the Baptizer, so He asked two questions regarding his character.
Along the Jordan River grew patches of reeds much like we have along the rivers and canals in the Central Valley. The reeds along the Jordan are more slender and fragile than the reeds here. Because of their fragile nature they are easily broken by the wind. Jesus asked the people if they thought of John as being fragile, changing with the wind, or easily broken.
The religious elite in John’s day (Pharisees and Sadducees) wore fine clothing that was richly appointed with sashes, linens, and embroidered tunics. This type of clothing was emblematic of riches, splendor, effeminacy, and/or feebleness of character. It said they were ‘a cut above’ everyone else.
By asking these questions, Jesus declared John the Baptizer to be no ordinary preacher or prophet. His righteousness was like hardened steel. His focus was as sharp as a razor. His character was clearly defined and expressed. He was the man of God of that generation. There was not turning with him. Nothing could distract nor derail him from accomplishing his mission of preparing the people to recognize and receive Jesus as the promised Messiah of Israel.
We don’t see or hear many preachers like John the Baptizer today. Maybe the times are different? Maybe the Gospel is different? Maybe the needs of people are different? I don’t think so. Maybe those who are called to ministry are different. Maybe our emphasis in ministry is different. Maybe ministry itself is different.
I know of those who are like reeds in the wind. I also know of those who would rather faire sumptuously than ‘suffer’ in ministry. But that’s not our mission as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to minister in one Kingdom and that Kingdom belongs to Jesus. Those who are appointed by the Holy Spirit to preach and teach and minister the Gospel are to be like John - not in clothing, not in cuisine, but in character. Our righteousness is to be like hardened steel. Our focus on Jesus is to be as sharp as a razor. Our character must be clearly defined and expressed. We must be the people of God in this generation
“Lord Jesus, raise up among us men and women like John the Baptizer. Our nation and world desperately needs Christians who are uncompromising in their faith and commitment to Jesus like John was. For Your Kingdom’s sake I ask, Amen.”