THE FIGURE AND THE PERSONALITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
God is really wonderful. How he does His things are so amazing. In fact, the disparity between God and man is unfathomable. His teleological ordering of things keeps us speechless. More astonishing is even his love for man regardless of man’s sinfulness. Imagine how he lovingly and systematically prepared for the redemption of man. In every epoch he raises great and holy man/men to instruct, admonish, condemn and or bless the people of God in their pilgrim journey. Great and holy prophets like Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah, Zachariah and Micah and many others rose in different periods to prepare for the salvation of man. But, although more controversial and incredible, the greatest of these was John the Baptist, in terms of the nature of his mission. In undertaking this mission John did not only employed truthfulness and honesty but his undaunted fearlessness, intimidating boldness and unequivocal eloquence were insightful. John paid the price of these with his blood/life. Yet, John was declared the greatest among all those born of women. But why was/is John so greatly declared great? Watch out his specialties, mission and paradoxically his littleness.
THE SPECIALTY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Many prophets have existed in the land of Israel. Many prophets prophesied about Jesus Christ but there is a kind of unique identity in John the Baptist that set him higher than any other prophets:
Before the conception of John an angel of God – Gabriel carried the unexpected good news to his parents. The same angel Gabriel carried the announcement of the conception of Christ our saviour. No Other prophet enjoyed this privilege. Again, John had a singular honour of meeting with the Lord even before their birth. They met while still in the womb of their mothers and John leapt with joy in reverence to Jesus, when Mary visited Elizabeth. What a divine encounter that even later made the great mother of God to serve as his nanny for about three months. This is more than a divine blessing. Not only that, as a precursor of Jesus John identified Jesus and pointed him out to the public when he eventually appeared. Jesus Christ himself spoke to the public about the greatness of John the Baptist when he said that among all those born of women no one is greater than John the Baptist. This implies that as the prophets prophesied about God, God himself prophesied about John himself which no prophet had ever been spoken of by God in such a way. John the Baptist was a great man and prophets indeed.
THE MISSION AND APOSTOLATE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
John was the forerunner of Jesus Christ and had the special duty and honor to prepare the way ahead for the coming of Christ the saviour himself. John carried out this mission by being that unique VOICE that cried in the desert that beckoned people for the baptism of repentance so as to be worthy of the saviour when he comes. He called people for/to change of heart and righteousness. John was the VOICE of the WORD, Jesus Christ himself. He was the voice that didn’t condone evils but condemned evils intoto. He condemned and challenged king Herod for his adulterous marriage which later cost him his life. The climax of the mission of John the Baptist was the identification and pointing out of the expected Messiah and his baptism. This mission was noble and so was honorably undertaken. What is your mission in the world? Have you realized it? How do you go about its actualization?
THE LITTLENESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Even though John was such a great man as seen above, his greatness is so little to compare with the least in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came to inaugurate the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of excellent love of God. This was manifested on the cross of calvary where God consummated his love for man and which set man above every other who came before the calvary event. . Yes! John must have known and perceived the holiness and righteousness of God, he might have known and identified the revelation of God, he might have been conversant with the Justice and Mercies of God which he himself proclaimed. But the fullness of the love of God eluded him. The fullness of the love of God was manifested on the cross which John hadn’t the privilege of witnessing or benefiting from. Those of us who are the calvary and post calvary children of God have privilege and special greatness that made us greater than the greatest of the pre-calvary children of God, John the Baptist.
Jesus the saviour by his cross, the fullness of his love for us, has given us the honour and privilege which the greatest of his prophet never had. But the question is: how often do we realize this great honour and privilege? How have we been handling it, so contemptuous or so reverent? Have we been agents of this love and how have we been radiating this love of God to all people on earth? As we are greater than the Voice of the Word, do we use our positions to condemn evils and bear witness to the truth even at the cost of our own life? Are we enjoying this privilege given us by the saviour or are we still expecting the saviour or another?
May the good Lord give us the grace to realize how esteemed the love of God has placed us on earth and in heaven and enable us to use the same privilege to proclaim and bear witness to God and our faith, no matter the price, through Christ our Lord.