Matthew 11:1-19 John And Jesus.
With the advent of the Christ there is a transition in salvation history. Christ is the centre of history, but also its beginning and end. Among those who declared the canonical word, from Adam to Malachi, no one was greater than John the Baptist, not because of who he was, but because of the epochal role he played in the history of redemption. Thrown in prison for preaching a message of repentance, John himself wondered if his faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah was misplaced. Jesus had just been teaching his apostolic witness bearers about their roles as the instruments of continued canonical witness, and now he reflects on the place of John.
It would be sadly misleading for anyone to think of John as a Baptist as is understood today. Neither he nor Jesus believed that the kingdom of God was only for those who are adults making their adult confessions. In fact, concerning nursing infants, Jesus affirmed that such were the quintessential members of the kingdom, knowing their full dependence on the Master, and not on their works of confession or practice. Jesus reminded John, via the disciples he had sent, that with Jesus there were the signs and seals of true canonical testimony, and that those who are not offended to be followers of Jesus the Christ would be blessed indeed.
John was more than a prophet, because he was tasked with being the forerunner of the Messiah in the flesh. His message of repentance which would precede the call to faith, is still the pattern to be followed in the proclamation to this day, and ever shall be. Nevertheless, even the least member of the kingdom, perhaps a nursing infant, is greater than John, for now the Messiah has come. “For all the prophets and the law prophesied till John” (v. 13). The whole of the canonical word pointed forward to the advent of the Messiah, and the establishment of his reign. As in that generation, so also in ours, many seek to be entertained rather than hear a message of repentance and faith.
John lived a life of restraint, in fasting and prayer and deprivation, for his was a message of repentance and longing for the Lamb of God to come. But with the advent of Jesus the Christ it was a time to rejoice, for salvation full, rich, and free would find its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus – he who came to save his people from their sins. But those who rejected the need for repentance, looking as they did to their own supposed righteousness, scoffed at both John and Jesus, because their hearts were not set on the canonical testimony to the kingdom. Jesus continues to bring division, between those who seek to build their own self-righteous kingdoms, and those who confess their sins and place their faith in the Savior.