DEC. 10. ADVENT WK.2. (B) THU. MATT. 11. 11-15
Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm. Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading; and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!’
We should always give thanks for the way God has always cared for his people! As creatures how could we possibly know what our Creator wants of us if he had not given us guides and prophets, which he has done since the birth of Adam.
John the Baptist shares a special place among these “guides” and “teachers” however, as he is the last of them; - being given the joyful task of introducing the Redeemer who all the prophets had been promising for centuries before him. It was his task to announce that the Redeemer was here “now”!
And it is to be noted how he did this; - “Behold The Lamb of God; - Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world!”
This message would have had a particular relevance for the people of God at this time in history as for centuries earlier they had been offering lambs in sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem, but now they were being told their Redeemer was to replace the lambs that had previously been offered in sacrifice.
And John was quite specific about this “human sacrificial Lamb”, in that he would “take away the sins of the world.”
The reason Christ was able to say that “of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen”, was because John the Baptist had been chosen by God to reveal this truth to the world!
This was not “a message of earthly origin” but rather “a message from God” that John had been chosen to announce to God’s People. Although it had still to be developed the people were being told their Redeemer’s life was to be sacrificed in atonement for their sins!
But then we have a very strange statement from Christ, namely that; - “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is!” Here we have another aspect of John’s message that was not immediately apparent at the time; - John was introducing “The Kingdom of Heaven”, or what we now know as The New Testament; a “Kingdom” that calls for humility, obedience and love!
This “Kingdom” requires its members to imitate “The Lamb of God” by renouncing their own will and desires, in order to “follow” the teachings of Jesus Christ; - something that would demand Humility, Love and Sacrifice; - offered in atonement for sin!
The “Message of John” was in fact the same “message” Christ would shortly deliver; - a call to imitate “The Lamb of God”, by sacrificing our own lives in imitation of Christ; - a way of life that was to be referred to as “Christianity”;- which Christians today still strive to follow; - by embracing their own God-given “Cross” and renouncing their own will and desires.