Mistaken Identity

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our new preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, by looking at a strange episode in Matthew 14:1-13 on the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas. This passage has import for revealing Jesus’ identity and also gives us insight into the life of discipleship.

This message is part of the sixth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants,
‘This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead!’” (Matthew 14:1-2)

Jesus Mistaken for John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-2)

Reports about Jesus reach Herod Antipas

The similar ministry of Jesus and John the Baptist

Herod Antipas’ similar concerns about Jesus and John

John the Baptist Crashes Herod’s Party (Matthew 14:3-12)

John speaks truth about Herod’s actions

Herod’s party and family drama

John’s brutal death at Herod’s hands

Jesus Withdraws (Matthew 14:13)

Withdrawing from Herod Antipas and the crowds

Withdrawing with the apostles and to be with the Father


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize John’s message in Matthew 3:2
  • Journal, draw, paint, or ink this story as a way of reflecting on how you see Jesus and who Jesus really is to you.
  • Read more about John the Baptist’s life in the following passages:
  • Luke 1:5-25, 39-80
  • Luke 3:1-20
  • Matthew 3:1-12
  • John 1:6-8, 19-34
  • John 3:22-36
  • Matthew 11:1-19
  • Matthew 14:1-12
  • Mark 6:14-29
  • Matthew 17:11-13; 21:32
  • Read more about Herod Antipas here or here.

Eastbrook at Home – September 19, 2021

Eastbrook-At-Home-Series-GFX_16x9-Title

Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.

We continue our series, “Who Do You Say I Am?,” as I preach on the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas in connection with Jesus’ rising ministry in Galilee from Matthew 14:1-13. We are also integrating our annual meeting into the services this weekend as a way of highlighting all that God is doing in our midst.

This series continues our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes our previous series “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom: parables of Jesus.”

We also continue in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, and you no longer need to RSVP ahead of time.

If you are new to Eastbrook, we want to welcome you to worship and would ask you to text EBCnew to 94000 as a first step into community here at Eastbrook.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

Knowing Who We Are and Who We’re Not: a lesson from John the Baptist

John the Baptist

One of the most gripping commendations Jesus ever offered was about John the Baptist when He said, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28). There was really no one quite like John, and Jesus recognized that.

Of course, the other part of that statement was this: “yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” John knew who he was and also knew who he wasn’t, and that shaped the way he lived.

At one point in his ministry, John said to a group of his disciples and gathered onlookers: “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him'” (John 3:28). John knows who he is and knows who he is not.

John the Apostle sets us up for this in the first chapter of his gospel when he says that John the Baptist is not “the Light”:

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. (1:6-8)

Later on, when John is questioned by religious leaders, he knows that he is not the Messiah,  Elijah or the long-awaited Prophet:

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’

They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’
He said, ‘I am not.’
‘Are you the Prophet?’
He answered, ‘No.’

Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”‘ (John 1:19-21)

John clearly knew who he was and who he was not.

Not only that, John knew that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he, John, was not Jesus:

  • John was not the light, but, as we read in John 1:9 – “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” – Jesus is the light
  • John was not the privileged son, but, as we read in John 1:14, “the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” – Jesus is the One and Only Son.
  • John was not the Messiah, but more than once he exclaimed to his followers when Jesus passed by, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (1:29)

John knew that he was not the awaited one, but that Jesus was the one the world was waiting for.

So, when John the Baptist’s followers come to him feeling out of sorts because Jesus’ ministry is increasing, John is not really bothered. In fact, he knows this is the way things are supposed to be. He knows that all of what he is doing is really about Jesus.

John the Baptist is a powerful example for all of us who follow Jesus. He reminds us that not any one of us is the Messiah, and we should live accordingly. I am not the Messiah. You are not the Messiah. We cannot solve everyone’s problems, be everywhere at once, or be the one to save the world. That was Jesus’ job. Believing this and live out of this belief  is a significant part of our discipleship.

We are not here to replace Jesus, but to display Jesus in our life on earth. The difference seems slight, but it is gargantuan in practice. In our lives we are not trying to be the Messiah, we are trying to direct people to the Messiah.

John the Baptist knew who he was and who he was not, and it set him free to minister as God would have him regardless of the outcome.

The Messiah and the Forerunner

This past weekend at Eastbrook, Jim Caler graciously stepped in to preach as I had to be out of town. He continued our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 11:2-19.

This message focuses on the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist and what it means to truly hear from God and respond.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)

John the Baptist’s Perspective on Jesus (11:2-6)

  • John’s early perspective on Jesus: the one coming after who is stronger (3:11-12)
  • John’s current perspective on Jesus: “are you the one who is to come?” (11:2-3)
  • Jesus’ response to John’s question: take a look at what’s happening (11:4-6)

Jesus’ Perspective on John the Baptist (11:7-15)

  • John was a prophet (11:7-9)
  • John was “Elijah” the prophets spoke of (11:14; Malachi 3:1; 4:4-5)
  • John was the last of the age before the Kingdom (11:11-14)
  • Jesus’ question to His hearers: do you have ears to hear? (11:15)

This Generation’s Perspective on John the Baptist and Jesus (11:16-19)

  • A parable about children in the market (11:16-17)
  • This generation’s desire for Jesus and John to “fit” their desires
  • The proof of the wisdom of God’s Kingdom

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into understanding John the Baptist and his relationship to Jesus in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 11:11.
  • Study all the passages about John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew (3:1-17; 4:12; 9:14-17; 11:1-19; 14:1-13; 16:13-14; 17:10-13; 21:23-32). 
  • Explore Bible maps related to the life and ministry of John the Baptist here
  • While it focuses on the Gospel of Luke, you may enjoy watching the Bible Project video, “The Baptism of Jesus (Luke 3-9)”

Eastbrook at Home – June 27, 2021

Eastbrook-At-Home-Series-GFX_16x9-Title

Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.

We also continue our preaching series, “The Messiah’s Mission,” as Pastor Jim Caler preaches from Matthew 11:2-19 on the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.

This series continues our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes previous series “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” and “Becoming Real.”

Join in with the Eastbrook 365 daily devotional for this series here.

We also continue in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, and you no longer need to RSVP ahead of time.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.