Again, I’m going to help you in your next game of “Bible Trivia.” Who was the last O.T. prophet? If you answered “Malachi,” then you need to actually do the Scripture reading before you read my devotional. The answer’s John the Baptist.
I spent several days a couple of years ago studying the life of John, so we’re not going to go too much into that. I just wanted to submit some thoughts on what our Lord says about this man before we move on to some a more systematic study in the book of Isaiah. So what does Jesus say about this man, and how is it relevant to us?
First off, we need to keep in mind that the prophets had an incomplete understanding of what they were talking about. I thoroughly believe--and most commentators I’ve read agree with me--that John’s actions in sending his disciples were for his own benefit, not just for the disciples’. He'd preached and served faithfully for many years, and his reward so far was a dark prison and impending death. My theory of his source of doubt is that he suffered from some of the common misunderstanding of what the Messiah came to do. Of course, he had a vastly greater comprehension of the Messiah’s atoning work than anyone else of his generation. But apparently he was under the impression that the arrival of the Messiah was going to bring about a “regime change” in the world. When Messiah came, he would set up a physical kingdom and would restore Israel to prominence, and would slay all God’s enemies, etc. “And if that’s the case, what the heck am I still doing in prison? If Jesus is about to set up his kingdom, he needs to hurry if my head's going to stay attached to my shoulders.”
The prophets don’t seem to have really mentioned in their writings the fact that the Messiah would be coming twice, not once. We’re going to get into this later, but for now we need to grasp this concept: They tended to blur the two comings into one in their writings.
So what does Jesus have to say about John? We need to keep in mind that Jesus had just (very gently) rebuked John for letting doubts creep into his head. Perhaps the audience gathered from this that Jesus was putting John down or disrespecting him. Absolutely not! Jesus tells us:
• You know the stereotype of the politician who sticks his finger in the wind, sees which way it’s blowing, and then plots his course based on popular opinion? That’s the exact opposite of John. He was serving the Lord as best as he was able, and he couldn’t care less what people thought or about being popular.
• He willingly gave up creature comforts in order to fulfill Gods plan for him.
• He's specifically predicted in Scripture. There are very few men who could point to a prophetic statement in God’s word and say “Yeah, that’s talking about me!" but John could. He was the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1.
• Among those born from women, there was never anyone greater than John. Not Abraham. Not Moses. Not David. Not Solomon. Not Isaiah. Not Jeremiah. None of them was greater than John.
Again, why is this important? Because in spite of all this, the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than him. That applies to you (if you’re a believer) and to me. No matter how insignificant I am or feel, I’m greater than John. Not because of what I’ve done (as if I could ever equal his accomplishments, duh), but because of who I am in Christ.
That’s why I wanted to make this point. Your understanding is so much greater than John’s it’s not even funny. He only had the partial picture. You have all the revelation that humanity’s going to get until Christ returns. He had a pretty decent grasp of what Jesus was going to do. You’ve personally experienced what Jesus did.
You have so much more than John or any other prophet ever did. Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you grateful?
Yes, Lord, I am. Now please let me show that.
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