Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
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 go out to 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 one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
In today’s passage from Matthew, we read that the coming of John the Baptist is the fulfillment of prophecy. There are actually several prophecies that point to John. The first, referenced by Matthew, is from Malachi: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me” (3:1). Another is from Isaiah: “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (40:3).
A third prophecy actually comes from John’s father, Zechariah, who “was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” about his own son: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:67, 76).
So, John is the prophesied messenger who prepares the way for Jesus’ first coming. He’s sort of a big deal. But where is the John who will prepare the way for Jesus’ second coming? Who is that messenger? The answer may be surprising: You are.
Like John, every Christian has been entrusted with a message: the gospel, the good news, which is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Just as John did, we who know Jesus point to him and say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
If you are a Christian, this is your charge: Prepare ye the way of the Lord. We are God’s messengers now.
This Advent, be a messenger who shares the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for he will come again.
Josh Bishop is the web content manager at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.