Rumors about Jesus

Yes, John the Baptist bore witness, and he did the job that God intended for him to do at that time. But later on, doubts came to him, and he finally succumbed to the many rumors circulating about Jesus. One such rumor called Jesus fatherless, an illegitimate child. John the Baptist certainly heard that rumor, and he wondered how such a person could be the Son of God. Even though he had witnessed to Jesus, John later became suspicious and betrayed him. If John the Baptist had truly united with Jesus Christ, he could have moved his people to accept Jesus as the Messiah, for the power and influence of John was very great in those days.

I am telling you many unusual things, and you may ask by what authority I am speaking. It is the authority of the Bible, and with the authority of revelation. Let us read the Bible together, and see word by word how John the Baptist acted.

‘Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?”‘ (Matt. 11:2-3)

This was long after he had testified to Jesus as the Son of God. How could he even ask, “Are you he who is to come as the Son of God?” after the testimony of the Spirit to him? Jesus was truly sorrowful. He felt anger. Jesus refused to answer John the Baptist with a straight yes or no. He replied instead,

‘Blessed is he who takes no offense at me.’

Let me paraphrase what Jesus meant: “John, I am sorry that you took offense at me. At one time you recognized me, but now you doubt me. I am sorry your faith has proved to be so weak.”

After this incident, Jesus spoke to the crowds concerning John. He put a rhetorical question to them:

‘What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.”‘ (Matt. 11:7-10)

What Jesus was saying here was this: “John, you went out to the wilderness to see the person more than a prophet–the Messiah, the Son of God. You have seen everything but missed the vital point, the core of your mission. You indeed failed to recognize me and failed to live up to God’s expectation. It is God who expects of you ‘to make ready for the Lord a people prepared’ You have failed.”

Jesus concluded:

‘Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ (Matt. 11:11)

Conventional Christian interpretations have never fully explained the meaning of this controversial verse.

The missions of prophets through the ages were to prepare for or testify to the Messiah. Prophets always testified from a distance of time. John the Baptist was the greatest among prophets because only he was the prophet contemporary with the Messiah, the prophet who could bear witness, in person, to the living Christ. But John failed to recognize the Messiah. Even the least of the prophets then living in the spiritual world knew Jesus was the Son of God. That is why John, who was given the greatest mission, and failed, became less than the least.

Jesus said, ‘From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force.’ (Matt. 11:12)

John the Baptist was the chosen instrument of God, destined to be the chief disciple of Jesus. He failed in his responsibility, and Simon Peter, by the strength and force of his faith, earned that central position for himself on his own merit. Other men stronger and more violent in faith than John the Baptist fought relentlessly with Jesus for the realization of God’s kingdom on earth. The devout men who righteously followed John the Baptist could not become the 12 apostles and 70 disciples of Christ, as they were to have been. If John the Baptist had become the chief disciple of Jesus, those two together would have united all of Israel. But the truth is that John the Baptist did not follow the Son of God.

One day John’s followers came to him and asked,

‘Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him’ (John 3:26)

They carried concern in their question: “Look at all the people going to Jesus. What about you?” John the Baptist replied,

‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ (John 3:30)

Usually Christians interpret this passage as proof of John’s humble personality. This is an incorrect understanding of the meaning of his words. If Jesus and John had been united, their destiny would be to rise or fall together. Then Jesus could not increase his reputation while John’s own prestige diminished! The lessening of his own role was what John feared.

John once stated the Messiah was the one ‘. . . whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. . .’ (Matt. 3:11)

Yet he failed to follow Jesus even after he knew that Jesus was the Son of God. John the Baptist was a man without excuse. He should have followed.

(from the book: God’s Will and the World by Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon)

SMM Quotes – 144

“What is the central force moving God’s providence along? Certainly, the central theme of the providence has been true love. True love is so powerful and wonderful that once you have the hope of acquiring it for yourself nothing else really matters to you. The taste of true love gives you the power and determination to pursue it further.” – Sun Myung Moon

The question of Elijah

This presented a great dilemma for the people of Israel. They immediately asked, “If this Jesus is the Messiah, then were is Elijah?” They earnestly expected the Messiah at that time, so they were also waiting for Elijah. They believed he would come straight down from heaven, right out of the sky, and the Messiah would come soon after, in a similar manner.

So when Jesus proclaimed himself as the Son of God, the Jewish people became puzzled. If there had come no Elijah, then there could be no Messiah. And no one had told them that Elijah had come. The disciples of Jesus were also confused. When they went out to preach the gospel, people persistently denied that Jesus could be the Son of God because the disciples were unable to prove that Elijah had come. They confronted this problem everywhere they went.

The disciples of Jesus were not educated in the Old Testament. Many learned people rebuked them when they went out to preach, asking, “Do you not know the Old Testament? Do you not know the Mosaic Law?” The disciples were embarrassed when they were attacked through the verses of the Law and the prophets. One day they came back to Jesus and put the question to him:

‘. . . why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?’ He replied, ‘Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.’ (Matt. 17:10-13)

According to Jesus, John the Baptist was Elijah.

This was the truth. We have determined the truth according to the words of Jesus Christ. But the disciples of Jesus could not convince the elders and chief priests and scribes of this fact. To those men, the idea was simply ridiculous. The only authority that supported such a notion was the word of Jesus of Nazareth. That is why the testimony of John the Baptist was so crucial. But alas, John himself denied that he was Elijah when he was asked! His denial made Jesus seem to be a liar.

Read the Bible: ‘And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ . . . And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’

He said, ‘I am not.’ Are you the prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No’. (John 1:19-21)

John himself said, “I am not Elijah.” But Jesus had said, “He is Elijah.”

John made it almost impossible for the people to know that Elijah had come. But Jesus declared the truth anyway. He said,

‘ . . . if you are willing to accept it, he [John the Baptist] is Elijah who is to come’ (Matt. 11:14)

Jesus knew that most people could not accept the truth. Instead they questioned the motivation of Jesus. In order for Jesus to seem like the Messiah, Elijah had to come first, so the people thought he was lying for the purpose of his own self-aggrandizement. The Son of God became more and more misunderstood by the people.

This was such a grave situation. In those days, the influence of John the Baptist was felt in every corner of Israel. But Jesus Christ was an obscure and ambiguous figure in his society. Nobody was in a position to take Jesus’ words as the truth. This failure of John was the major cause of the crucifixion of Jesus.

John the Baptist had already seen the Spirit of God descending upon the head of Jesus Christ at the Jordan. At that time he testified:

‘I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’ (John 1:32-34)

(from the book: God’s Will and the World by Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon)

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