Jesus defends John the Baptist


Matthew 11:7 “As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?’ ”

People are often fair weather friends. For thousands of years it has been popular to follow influencers with passion and deep devotion. But it has also been the norm, when a particular famous personality falls on hard times, for interested parties to change loyalties. When the storm clouds gather, the chatter can become negative and the fickle-hearted fans move on. Thankfully, Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He remembered and defended John the Baptist when the world turned cold, and He will do the same for you.

John the Baptist, the peculiar prophet, who appeared out of the wilderness and preached a message of repentance to sinful and hurting people, drew quite a crowd in his heyday. But circumstances had changed and now the influential prophet was wasting away in a Roman prison. In confusion John sent a few loyal friends to find answers and clarity on Jesus’ true identity and the status of God’s Kingdom. Jesus sent the men back to the discouraged prophet with a message of hope and assurance.

Then Jesus did something very interesting. Turning to the crowds who had witnessed the exchange Jesus gave a beautiful tribute to John and his ministry. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Jesus questioned the large assembly of people.

John was not a reed shaken by the wind! He stood strong against opposition and spoke truth despite the consequences. Neither was he a stylish man who cared more about his appearance than his calling. This rugged man was a prophet; in fact, he was more than the usual prophet. He was the forerunner that Malachi, a previous spokesman for God, foretold would come to prepare the way of the Lord. “Among those born of women,” Jesus continued, “there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!”

John had fulfilled his calling of ushering in the Kingdom of God, and as the final Old Testament prophet he had the distinct pleasure of introducing his followers to Jesus, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, as privileged as John the Baptist was, Jesus announced that now even the least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than he.

John, along with all the previous prophets, spoke God’s words under the influence of the Holy Spirit. But all believers on this side of the cross have an even greater privilege. We are the recipients of the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise; “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.”

John the Baptist, the messenger of the kingdom of God, spoke fearlessly despite the consequences, but the people, like little children playing games, waffled back and forth in their opinions. They found fault with John because of his ascetic lifestyle, saying he had a demon.

But they also found fault with Jesus and said he was a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Yet, in all of these accusations wisdom and truth vindicated both.

It is a comfort to know that despite what people may think or say, God knows the complete truth and will always defend His own. Jesus paid tribute to John the Baptist and He will not forget our work or the love we have shown towards His name either. Remember this truth when you find yourself surrounded by fair weather friends!



Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at

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