John the Baptist was a prophet like those before him. He called the people to repentance and to new life. And yet John the Baptist was different. Jesus said of him that there was no one greater born among women. That is our first clue. Our second clue is how much attention Luke gives to him. Several chapters surrounding his birth. Our third give away are the miracles surrounding his birth. Signs and wonders accompanied his natal stages. So much so that the people were wondering when he began his ministry if John was the Christ. John clearly says no. And in doing so Jesus just got elevated.
Imagine your in Italy and the Pope comes around. One of the Catholic parishoners says of him, “Pope, you are the greatest thing that has ever lived.” And what if the Pope said, “Actually I’m not. There is another who will come and he is so far greater I am not worthy to take out his trash.”
So why not just another prophet preparing the way? Why did this prophet have a miraculous birth and miraculous discipline for his father when he dared to disbelieve?
I believe it’s because every King has the very best. When I invite someone over to the house, I pick up the house and make things look nice. I welcome them with water, tea or coffee and make them comfortable. When a member of royalty comes, there is a much greater protocol. The very best is brought out in food, entertainment, facilities, and the top quality of everything to prepare for the arrival of royalty. It takes weeks and sometimes months of preparation. All to create a special welcome so that royalty is honored, received and blessed.
But more important than that is Jesus is a different kind of King and was coming for a different kind of kingdom, a kingdom that was to reign in the hearts of men and women. For this a special preparation needed to happen. And this came through John the Baptist calling the people to make their hearts right for the Lord. In doing so a people were made “ready” for the King.
If you look from the perspective of efficiency it would have been much better to wait until Jesus came to preach and then they could get the whole message, included the baptism in by “the Holy Spirit and fire.” But by John calling the people to repentance and to change their ways, their obedience opened the doorway for them to received greater revelation. Let me say that again. Obedience opens the door to greater revelation. And that meant being positioned to receive Jesus as the King.
So where does that leave us? Jesus is coming back again. Soon. Globally this is felt among the body of Christ. If so, how do we prepare? How do we be a John the Baptist generation that “makes ready a people prepared for the Lord”? I think to do so is to see the hearts of men and women receive him so that when he comes, he gets the welcome he deserves. And it’s preparing ourselves, walking in holiness and righteousness so that he receives his bride coming down the aisle so beautiful that she takes his breath away. We’re not there yet, but to this end we work.