And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see?…
What is it in human character that exerts the most powerful influence over the hearts of men?
1. Is it what is generally called amiability? Is it "a reed shaken by the wind?" a character that bends at the first expression of adverse opinion? Is this the character that wins the human heart? That which really draws us to itself is the man who is strong enough to resist with tenderness.
2. Are we, then, generally attracted by the attributes of high station? "Clothed in soft raiment." Few people are insensible to the attraction of high station; it has often the charm of old associations and achievements. But does it draw our hearts? His life may contradict the high ideal his position would lead us to expect; and these decorations are outside the man.
3. Is it mental power which most powerfully affect us? Many a man bows down to intellect who would not to wealth. Intellect is attractive, but its attraction is not universal; it is not powerful; there are large regions of heart in our nature where it does not touch. Intellect may forfeit its power by being divorced from goodness — "More than a prophet."
4. The feeling which is always inspired by a great religious soul of whose consistency we are well assured, but which we only half understand. Such a character lives before us evidently in constant communion with God while shrouding from the public eye much which our curiosity would fain explore. Without analyzing their feelings, the multitude felt that in coming near to the Baptist they were like men who stood at the base of a mountain which buries its summit in the clouds of heaven. John was not discredited by his imprisonment; he was a prophet still; so our Lord would have them understand.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?