Learning from John the Baptist

Three disciples had seen Moses and Elijah talking with the Lord when Jesus was transfigured before them, and had been ordered not to tell anyone about the vision until “the Son of Man is risen from the dead” (17:3, 9). This puzzled them, for it seemed that Jesus was ignoring the prophesy that Elijah would come and “restore all things” right before the day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5-6). How could Jesus’ oft-predicted death occur in such a “restored” world? Jesus affirmed their belief that “Elijah is coming first and will restore all things” (17:11) and then announced that he had already appeared, in the person of John the Baptist. What did He mean? These two great prophets shared much in common. They both - Spent time in the wilderness, far from the seat of power. - Challenged God’s people to turn from their sins and serve God. - Criticized the religious leaders of their day - Rebuked wicked kings for their transgressions, and - Incurred the wrath of evil queens as a result, and therefore - Suffered persecution. - And each one had a greater successor: Elisha and Jesus. John the Baptist as “Elijah” had “restored all things” by successfully turning many people to repentance and preparing the way for Christ (Matthew 3:5-6), but just as he had suffered for his faithful witness, so must the Messiah to whom he had pointed. The lessons for us are clear: Like all the prophets, and our Lord Himself, we must - Testify fearlessly to God’s truth and - Prepare to face murderous hatred from His enemies (Matthew 5:12; 10:16-39; 16:24).