It has long been understood by those heralding the gospel of Christ, there is a peril connected to the great privilege. The peril being considered falls under the common understanding of the practice by some who “shoot the messenger.” This reaction to preaching the gospel of Christ should not come as a surprise. The forerunner to Jesus, John the baptizer, was a victim of it (Matt. 14:1-8).
John the baptizer was a messenger of God (Luke 1:15), prophesied to be the forerunner to Jesus (Mal. 4:5-6). He carried the message of repentance—the Lord is coming. He was a preacher with a good following (Matt. 3:5-6). He preached baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:3).
He preached to great and small alike (Matt. 14:4). To those living in adultery, he preached the condemnation of God for such immorality (Luke 3:19-20; Col. 3:7). Repentance was very important to those living in adultery, because adultery is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19) that will condemn one’s soul. When John the Baptist preached the Truth on this subject, Herodias didn’t like it. Like many today neither she nor Herod were willing to humble themselves and repent, so she through Herod chose rather to attack the messenger. He [John] paid a high price for it (Matt. 11:2-3). John was jailed which caused him for a time to question Jesus (Luke 7:19-20), and ultimately he lost his life for preaching the Truth (Matt. 14:10-11).
The Bible records that John baptized many (Luke 3:7). The multitude, it is said, regarded him as a prophet (Matt. 14:5). He was so influential that long after his death, the Jewish elders were careful not to speak against him for they feared the people (Matt. 21:26).
Jesus said he was a “great” man (Matt. 11:11). Of those born of women—none greater, but because of the guilt of sin, he had to die. It is important to note that Herod the tetrarch heard of Jesus and thought him to be John resurrected (Matt. 14:1-2). What a great compliment to John! The messenger of Heaven, Jesus, was to face death also as stated in His prophetic parable (Mark 12:6-8). As a matter of fact, all the apostles but John suffered a form of deadly treatment. Were they good men? Jesus was the greatest of all, and yet crucified on the cruel cross of Calvary.
What did shooting the messenger change? Nothing, It actually fulfilled God’s plan to bruise the devil’s head and complete His plan of salvation for man. What truth was changed by shooting the messenger? Not one iota, but folks still try it today. Rather than hearing the redeeming word of God and obeying, many refuse to humble themselves to repentance and obedience choosing instead the tired failed plan of shooting the messenger. It is a peril of preaching the Truth, but the blessing of God comes by preaching it anyway. The fulness of His blessing will be realized in Glory. That’s the good news!
Northeast Church of Christ bulletin October 15, 2023