A Reed Shaken with the Wind?

by Pastor Kevin Sadler

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“And when the messengers of John were departed, He began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet” (Luke 7:24-26).

In this passage, our Lord praised John the Baptist. The Lord asked those present that day, “When you went out in the wilderness to see John, did you expect him to be like a reed shaken with the wind?”

The region in the wilderness where John preached was flooded annually by the Jordan River and produced many reeds of a light, fragile nature that were easily blown around by the wind. The question the Lord asked was if they saw a man who was easily moved and vacillating, perhaps one who catered to the crowd and moved with every whim of popular opinion. Not John. John was a man of conviction and courage. He preached the message God gave him, the gospel of the kingdom, and stood firmly for that truth. He was not swayed, and no one could ever accuse John of being a reed shaken by the wind.

We need to be like John with the truth of God’s message of grace for today—not one who is “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14), but one who stands firm and is “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1).

The Lord also asked the crowd, “When you went to see John, did you go to see a man who was dressed in fine clothes and soft fabrics, the kind worn in the palaces of kings?” Matthew 3:4 tells us that “John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins.” John wore poor, coarse clothing. He was dressed in camel’s hair, the coarse fabric of an outdoorsman rather than soft raiment and fashionable attire. He was a man who was not concerned with the things  that people ordinarily wish for or care about. He was absorbed with God’s truth and spiritual realities. Being so, he made others see how poor they were and how rich they could be.

The Lord asked, “When you went out to the wilderness, did you go out to see a prophet?” The Lord said yes, it was a prophet they went out to see. In fulfilling his role as a prophet, John was a man who declared the Word of the living God, no matter what the cost to him might have been. John was a prophet “and much more than a prophet” (Luke 7:26), because he was also the prophesied messenger, the forerunner who would prepare the way for the Messiah’s ministry (Luke 3:2-4).

John is a good example for us, because today there are many distractions, many things trying to pull us away from Christ and our purpose as believers. Like John, we need to be focused on serving the cause of Christ, standing for God’s truth, and living for eternal realities so that we can follow Paul’s challenge, “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast [we have] received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it” (Col. 4:17).

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