The latter part of December they all went over near the Jordan, close by Pella, where they again began to teach and preach. Both Jews and gentiles came to this camp to hear the gospel. It was while Jesus was teaching the multitude one afternoon that some of John’s special friends brought the Master the last message which he ever had from the Baptist.
John had now been in prison a year and a half, and most of this time Jesus had labored very quietly; so it was not strange that John should be led to wonder about the kingdom. John’s friends interrupted Jesus’ teaching to say to him: “John the Baptist has sent us to ask—are you truly the Deliverer, or shall we look for another?”
Jesus paused to say to John’s friends: “Go back and tell John that he is not forgotten. Tell him what you have seen and heard, that the poor have good tidings preached to them.” And when Jesus had spoken further to the messengers of John, he turned again to the multitude and said: “Do not think that John doubts the gospel of the kingdom. He makes inquiry only to assure his disciples who are also my disciples. John is no weakling. Let me ask you who heard John preach before Herod put him in prison: What did you behold in John—a reed shaken with the wind? A man of changeable moods and clothed in soft raiment? As a rule they who are gorgeously appareled and who live delicately are in kings’ courts and in the mansions of the rich. But what did you see when you beheld John? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and much more than a prophet. Of John it was written: ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face; he shall prepare the way before you.’
“Verily, verily, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is but small in the kingdom of heaven is greater because he has been born of the spirit and knows that he has become a son of God.”
Many who heard Jesus that day submitted themselves to John’s baptism, thereby publicly professing entrance into the kingdom. And the apostles of John were firmly knit to Jesus from that day forward. This occurrence marked the real union of John’s and Jesus’ followers.
After the messengers had conversed with Abner, they departed for Machaerus to tell all this to John. He was greatly comforted, and his faith was strengthened by the words of Jesus and the message of Abner.
On this afternoon Jesus continued to teach, saying: “But to what shall I liken this generation? Many of you will receive neither John’s message nor my teaching. You are like the children playing in the market place who call to their fellows and say: ‘We piped for you and you did not dance; we wailed and you did not mourn.’ And so with some of you. John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said he had a devil. The Son of Man comes eating and drinking, and these same people say: ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!’ Truly, wisdom is justified by her children.
“It would appear that the Father in heaven has hidden some of these truths from the wise and haughty, while he has revealed them to babes. But the Father does all things well; the Father reveals himself to the universe by the methods of his own choosing. Come, therefore, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and you shall find rest for your souls. Take upon you the divine yoke, and you will experience the peace of God, which passes all understanding.”