The Humanity of the Forerunner

Matthew 11:2–15 (NKJV): 2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus, Elizabeth’s son. He was called by God to be a prophet. He saw tremendous things and even prophesied that Jesus was the Lamb of God. Yet, in his humanity, John began to have doubts. Sitting in prison caused him to wonder about the validity of the powerful things he told his followers. John needed assurance in his time of trouble, so he sent messengers to Jesus to ask one more time about His deity, His Messiahship, His validity as the Savior. Jesus simply replied that they should tell John what they saw and heard. The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear. The dead are raised and the poor are redeemed. Do not be offended. That would be enough for John, in the days leading up to his execution by decapitation.

7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written:

‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,

Who will prepare Your way before You.’

11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

In response to John’s powerful work as the forerunner, Jesus affirmed John’s calling and validated his methods, appearance, and message as a prophet. He even compared him to Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of Israel. He also said no one was greater, but yet even the least in the kingdom is greater. What did that mean? Perhaps Jesus is speaking of the fact that all are equal in the eyes of God. But He may be alluding to the fact that everyone has good days and bad days. We are all human, and we live in a fallen world. On the good days, we may rise higher than anyone else around us. On bad days, a newly minted Christian may be more successful than we are. Strive for excellence. Always strive for greatness. Don’t slack off on purpose. But also, don’t sweat the bad days. They will come, but God will help you through them and you will have good days again. Stand in faith and understand violence will come against you. You may be falsely accused or even imprisoned, but God is always with you. Listen while the Spirit speaks!

Artwork from: https://images.app.goo.gl/v6xwqvHVbFqmV3vw6

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