For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
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. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
The coming of Jesus results in the exaltation of his followers. It is not the same exaltation as the cronies of a dictator; or the members of a president’s party. It is not an exaltation that advances their own agenda or lines their own pockets. It will be the exaltation of having every need met by the Lord. The exaltation of God’s people means a sure and certain knowledge that God has acted. No more debates on Creation, the Resurrection, the reliability of Scripture.
Perhaps this last aspect is where we are to find the key to the perplexing problem of John’s position as the great but low. As a prophet he was truly closest to seeing all the things the prophets “searched and inquired carefully” for. Yet even in his life he had uncertainties and ultimately he dies without seeing the culmination of God’s salvation.
We are blessed with something John did not have: the knowledge of God’s love. Old Testaments saints hoped in God’s love. They believed in God’s love. They even knew aspects of God’s love. But only now has God’s love been truly revealed:
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9
The greatness this knowledge gives us is the ability to praise God more fully.
Hail to the Lord’s anointed, great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;
To take away transgression and rule in equity.
He comes in succor speedy to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, were precious in His sight.
He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in His path to birth.
Before Him, on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.
O’er every foe victorious, He on His throne shall rest;
From age to age more glorious, all blessing and all blest.
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His Name shall stand forever, His Name to us is Love.