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Bible Lesson: “Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?”
Focus: John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to question Jesus’ Messiahship, (found in Section 4 of this week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly).
Article from The Christian Science Journal: “When Jesus was questioned as to his Messiahship . . . ,” by Archibald McLellan. To read this article, click here to log in. Also, JSH-Online subscribers can view the article through the following link: https://journal.christianscience.com/issues/1906/8/24-5/when-jesus-was-questioned-as-to-his-messiahship
Excerpt: “When Jesus was questioned as to his Messiahship, . . . . He did not depend upon mere words for the verification of his doctrine. He knew that the only proof of the legitimacy of his claim to be the Messiah was in these works, and it rests with us as Christian Scientists to prove our right to be called his followers by showing forth the same works which he enumerated. . . . Just as our Master ‘refuted all opponents with his healing power’ (Science and Health, p. 18), so must Christian Scientists prove the efficacy of their faith, and that they are his followers, by healing the sick.” (CSJ, August 1906)
1 Why is John the Baptist in prison?
2 Why at this time in John the Baptist’s career does he doubt that Jesus is the Messiah (vs. 3)?
3 How does Jesus answer the question “art thou he that should come” (vs. 4)?
4 What is the significance of Jesus referring to specific healings (vs 5)?
5 What is meant when Jesus says, “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (vs. 6)?
6 Why does Jesus speak to the multitudes regarding John (vs. 7)?
7 How does this event with John the Baptist relate to this week’s Bible Lesson, “Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?”
Art: John the Baptist in Prison, by Guercino
Bible Lesson Verses: Matthew 11:2-6
(note: citations in green are from this week’s Lesson; citations in blue are not from this week’s Lesson)
“The preaching of John the Baptist prefaced the opening of Jesus’ public ministry and stirred afresh the Messianic hope. . . . John was in the barren hills of the wilderness of Judaea when he received his call to preach, a call as
compelling as that of Isaiah or of Jeremiah. The Fourth Gospel attests: ‘There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light’ (Jn. 1:6–8). . . . Sternly calling the nation to repentance, he startled them with the message: ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’—words never before proclaimed. (The word repentance is a translation of the Greek metanoyah, meaning ‘to think differently,’ ‘to have another mind,’ ‘to feel contrition and desire to amend.’) John’s audiences were chiefly circumcised Jews dissatisfied with the ceremonial forms of worship. To them he preached a new kind of purification, ‘the baptism of repentance for the remission [forgiveness] of sins,’ administering the rite of baptism or immersion in water. This washing by water was the sign and seal of a moral cleansing in preparation for spiritual regeneration. Baptism had up to this time been employed only for Gentile proselytes; it was a practice foreign to the Jews, who considered that as members of the chosen race they needed no cleansing.” (Shotwell, p. 231)
“It was not John’s habit to soften the truth for anyone; and he was incapable of seeing evil without rebuking it. He had spoken too fearlessly and too definitely for his own safety. Herod Antipas of Galilee had paid a visit to his brother in Rome. During that visit, he seduced his brother’s wife. He came home again, dismissed his own wife and married the sister-in-law whom he had lured away from her husband. Publicly and sternly, John rebuked Herod. It was never safe to rebuke a despot, and Herod took his revenge; John was thrown into the dungeons of the fortress of Machaerus in the mountains near the Dead Sea.” (Barclay, p. 2)
1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
“The position of the Baptist was so far that of a prisoner treated with respect. Herod himself observed him, and heard him gladly. Herodias had not yet found an occasion of revenge. His disciples came and went freely.” (Ellicott, online)
“John heard ‘what Christ was doing’ (v.2). The clause hides two subtle points. First, the use of (lit.) ‘the Christ’ is peculiar, for at this stage in Jesus’ ministry there was but little thoughtful ascription of this title to Jesus; and Matthew normally avoids it. . . . His entire gospel is written from the perspective of faith. The very first verse affirms Jesus as the Messiah, and the prologue (chs. 1–2) seeks to prove it. So at this point Matthew somewhat unusually refers to Jesus as ‘the Christ’ in order to remind his readers who it was that John the Baptist was doubting. . . . Far from being an anachronism, this use of ‘the Christ’ is Matthew’s own designation of Jesus.” (Expositor’s, p. 478)