In the amphitheatre of the Judean wilderness, the herald of the Messiah preached to the people and the religious leaders about repentance and the coming judgment, and imminent damnation and separation and destruction for the unrepentant enemies of God and Christ.
Matthew 3: 7-12
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.[a] 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
And under the penumbra of that rousing introduction, Jesus begins his work of imparting grace to sinners, of speaking of loving one’s enemies, performing miracles for the servant of a Roman centurion, a Greek woman’s daughter, and revealing Himself to the a Samaritan female with a bad reputation.
It was the work of holding the teachers and leaders of the Jews accountable for their corruption, cowardice, hypocrisy, and the work of feeding and healing multitudes of people John said He would punish.
And John, who leapt in Elizabeth’s womb at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s, sent messengers whose words must’ve torn at the Savior’s heart, even though He probably knew John would come to doubt before He ever descended:
“Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3)
John wasn’t there when Jesus proclaimed from the book of Isaiah the ‘year of the Lord’s favor,’ and therefore didn’t realize He did not speak of ‘the day of the Lord’s vengeance’ that John was preaching.
Jesus sends the reply that the events which the prophets spoke of and the tenets that the Law commands are being fulfilled, along with this gentle rebuke:
‘And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’ (Matt: 11:6)
Prophets predicted all manner of works God through Christ would perform, but they were never given specific times; they only knew what would happen, not when.
So it was with John, who prophesied the events of the day of vengeance, and so grew disillusioned when Jesus, from what he heard, was going around doing good instead, and didn’t attempt to get John freed.
We’re not told if John was comforted, or encouraged by Jesus’ answer, but it was all he was going to get before his death.
We’re not told if his faith was restored, and if he died despairing of hope.
John, if he doubted Christ, was not condemned for this moment; Jesus said the least in the kingdom is greater than John, so we know that John is there, leaping again in the presence of his Lord and Savior.
And for all of us steeped in the Word of the Lord, it’s all we’re going to get as well, yet God says He will pour out his Spirit on all men, and we will know that we know.
And it will be wonderful to see.
Therefore I pray:
Lord Jesus, I praise and thank You for adding this unworthy servant’s name to the Book of Life.
Thank You for finding me in the year of the Lord’s favor.
Thank You for loving me enough to let no one and nothing snatch me from Your holy hand.
Thank You for not only breaking the sin chains, but dissolving them as well.
Pour out Your Spirit on me, O Lord, so that I may walk in white, with Your righteousness before me so I will not die, an old man, will dream dreams again with Your power and favor anointing them.
By faith I receive Your mercy, in fear I reverence Your truth, desiring to flee the wrath to come.
Therefore, Lord, give me dreams wrapped in faith, mercy, love, joy, peace, understanding, and fill me with divine though and strength for all that You would have me to say, do, think, or imagine.
As I carry out and further the herald’s missive, to prepare the way of the Lord, grant me bolder power, favor, and discernment, that I may disciple all nations for Your Name and to Your everlasting glory, before the throne of God.
I ask in faith, believing I have already received.