John the Baptist Doubts Jesus’ Style

Apparently some people say that John the Baptist’s doubts in prison about who Jesus was weren’t really doubts.  John gave his disciples opportunity to see who Jesus was by asking Jesus the questions John told them to ask.  I believe John had doubts because he thought the Kingdom of God was going to come in a way that he did not see in Jesus.  Jesus then retells the signs that accompany the Kingdom of God in the book of Isaiah.  Giving up his own expectations about how the Kingdom should look, John would have been encouraged. 

Jesus addresses the doubts people have about the ways that God’s message is presented.  People were put of by both the austere approach of John the Baptist and the fully engaged approach of Jesus.  People rejected the Kingdom of God because God does not act in line with the dictates of men.  The very fact that we are talking about the Kingdom of God means that God must be king.  God is sovereign.  The problem with mankind is they want a Humanist Kingdom of God where God acts in ways that mankind can easily understand and predetermine.  Jesus paints a portrait of such people as spoiled whiners.

Luke 7:18-34

18John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

 20When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ “

 21At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

 24After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27This is the one about whom it is written:
   ” ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
      who will prepare your way before you.’[c] 28I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

 29(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

 31“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
   ” ‘We played the flute for you,
      and you did not dance;
   we sang a dirge,
      and you did not cry.’ 33For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ 35But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”


  1. What question dis John’s disciples ask Jesus?
  2. How did Jesus respond?
  3. How is John praised and how are the people castigated by Jesus?
  4. What styles of communication, clothing, music, and speaking do you think the Kingdom of God should include?
  5. How can your answer to #4 be seen in your actions?

Going Deeper

The Salvation Army are famous for going into bars and other places where many ‘good’ people will not go.  Have they maintained this practice?  Have they held fast to the gospel?  Click on the links below to find out.

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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