Today we finished our earthly study on John the Baptist. Isaiah 40 and Malachi 4 prophesied his coming and that of the Messiah.
Matthew 11:11 (ESV) 11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.
Imagine of all the prophets, priest, men and women of the Bible, John was called the greatest, not by men, but by Jesus. However, John was also the most unlikely Heroes of the Bible.
• John had an extraordinary birth; brought up in the wilderness with a diet of wild honey and locust.
• He wore garments of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. He was in all ways to be consisted a social outcast and odd.
• His purpose was to call away the attention to the worldly things.
• He was humble, yet passionately devoted to God’s revelation, and Christ-centered.
• He was not like any of the religious or political leaders of his day
Yet God chose him to achieve the highest possible privilege of any religious person who had ever lived.
John called by many, the first prophet in the New Testament, was actually the last prophet in the Old Testament. Studying John was paramount as we transition from the Old Testament, through the Intertestamental 400 years of silence, and into the New Testament, which begins immediately after the Baptism of Jesus. He was the forerunner of Jesus, the Messiah, our Lord and Savior. Except for the telling of his imprisonment and death by beheading, John quickly fades off, so that Christ would begin His ministry.
We see John predicted in Mark 1:2–3 (ESV) quoting Isiah 40:3
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
Also, Malachi 4:5–6 (ESV) prophesied his coming.
5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
The first awesome day of the Lord was during Jesus’ first coming. John was none other than Elijah, as articulated by Jesus.
Matthew 17:10–13 (ESV) 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Matthew 11:13–14 (ESV) 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
And speaking of Jesus, He must remain in heaven until his second awesome day of the Lord.
Acts 3:21 (ESV) 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
The same prediction in Malachi 4:5-6 also foretells of Elijah’s reappearance in “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, chapter 11. He is one of the two witnesses that will prophesy (or "preach") for 1260 days. It also foretells Jesus’ Second Coming.The second awesome day of the Lord. This time Jesus comes as a Lion!
So, then John was both the greatest and yet the least likely hero. Mentioned before, Jesus called him the greatest among those born of a woman. But He continued:
Matthew 11:11–14 (ESV) 11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered 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 accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
Note for us: Jesus added that of all men who had lived on earth, none was greater than John the Baptist. And yet one who is least in the kingdom will be greater than John. The privileges of Jesus’ disciples sharing in the kingdom will be far greater than anything anyone could experience on earth.