Have you ever been scared by a Bible verse? It doesn’t happen often but every now and then, I’ll come across a verse that makes me cringe. Verses like that might not be common, but when they come, they have the ability to scare the pants off you (or robe depending on what you wear :) ).
Luke 7:30 is one of those verses. It says: “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him (John the Baptist).”
Does that verse scare you? If it doesn’t, then you may need to read it again. Let me break it down for you and add my own emphasis on the verse.
"But the Pharisees and lawyers..."
aka THE GOOD GUYS, not the robbers and thieves and adulterers. These are the guys who were supposed to be the religious leaders and those who knew God best.
"…rejected the will of God for themselves..."
They missed out on the great stuff God had in store for them. Who knows what this might have entailed: wisdom to unlock mysteries, power over demons and unclean spirits, peace that surpasses understanding, faith to move mountains.
And not only did they miss out on all of this, but the worst part is that THEY REJECTED IT FOR THEMSELVES. No one told them “you can’t have this” or “you aren’t good enough for that;” THEY REJECTED IT FOR THEMSELVES.
Why would anyone in their right mind reject the will of God for themselves?
"…not having been baptized by him (John the Baptist)."
The key to the story is the baptism of John. Their rejection of the baptism of John is what caused them to miss out on the will of God for themselves.
John the Baptist is one of most intriguing characters to appear in the Bible. His story isn’t long, but it certainly is powerful. He is commonly referred to as the “Forerunner” of Christ – the one who “ran before/ahead of” Christ and prepared the way for Him. His job was to get people ready to meet Christ and to receive Him into their lives.
And he did so by a) preaching a message of repentance, and then b) baptizing those who accepted it.
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11).
John the Baptist = baptism = REPENTANCE
That is what he was known for and associated with. When it says that “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him”, it is saying that the reason they missed out on God’s will is because they refused to repent. They didn’t think they needed to change. They rejected John the Baptist and they rejected his baptism (repentance) and in doing so, they also rejected all the good things that God wanted to do in their lives.
THAT’S SCARY! Why? Because that could easily be me!!!
Jesus loved those lawyers and Pharisees just as He loves us – no more, no less. And just like He does for us, Jesus had a plan/will for their lives. He had gifts He wanted to give them and He has gifts He wants to give us. He had power He wanted to bestow upon them and He has power He wants to bestow upon us. The list goes on and on about all the gifts God has in store for those who seek Him.
But the problem is that they rejected those gifts because they refused to repent. They didn’t see that they needed to change anything in their lives – and because of that, they missed out on sooooooooooooo much!
Picture it this way: one day you will get up to heaven and when you get there, one of the angels will take you on a tour. While showing you around, you’ll find a room with a sign above the door that says: RESERVED FOR ______ (insert your name there).
And when you go inside there, you are going to see a bunch of boxes. Boxes boxes boxes. Floor to ceiling, stacks and stacks of boxes. And you are going to say to the angel “Wow! Are all those for me?”
And the angel will reply, “Sort of. Those WERE for you. God wanted to give them to you, but you refused.”
“What’s that?” you respond.
The angel explains, “God wanted to give them to you, but you refused to repent. Repentance would have unlocked the door to this room and given you access to these gifts, but you chose not to use it. Every time someone repents, God opens up their personalized storeroom of gifts and gives them one box to open. But no repentance, no gifts. Sorry.”
Why is the baptism of John so important? Because REPENTANCE IS THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS THE DOOR TO GOD'S GIFTS. We saw what happened to those who rejected it – they rejected the will of God. But how about those who accepted it? Take a look Luke 7:29 – the verse right before the scary one.
“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.” (Luke 7:29)
For discussion: what effect does “not repenting” on a regular basis have on your life?