A recent sermon at our church was based on this gospel reading:
“As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no on greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:2-11
John the Baptist was the last prophet, and it had been 400 years since a prophet (probably Malachi) had spoken to Israel. No wonder people were lining up to hear him! He was a man with a message, and that message was simple: Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand! It wasn’t a gospel message, because it wasn’t good news. It was a warning, a call to change before it was too late.
John came to prepare the way for Jesus, and a new covenant. He probably didn’t understand what that meant. Like others of that time and place, he might have been expecting Jesus to defeat the Romans, to turn Israel into a world power. We just don’t know. What we do know is that John couldn’t keep quiet. He was the sort of person who would obey God and speak the truth, no matter what it cost. In the end, it cost him his life, but he continued to be faithful to his call.
What a good example to contemplate during Advent. We know much more about the truth than John did. We have the New Testament, and the church to instruct us. He saw a glimpse of what was coming, but we have the full story.
Have you told this story to anyone recently? If not, why not? The best time to do it is now.
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 1 Corinthians 6:2
For more about John the Baptist, see these posts:
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