Summary: John came to point the way to the One who follow.
The Herald: A Voice in the Wilderness.
Matthew Chapter 3
April 30th, 2006
We’re going to skip ahead in the book of Matthew just a little bit into the third chapter. In the first chapter we have the miraculous birth of Christ, born of a virgin and conceived by the Spirit. In the second chapter the wise men visit and the family flees to Egypt to avoid King Herod. As the second chapter concludes, Joseph has returned from Egypt with his family and settled in the town of Nazareth.
Then you have a huge gap. There is a tremendous void in the life of Christ from that early childhood time until he comes onto the scene in chapter three to begin his public ministry. Luke gives us the only glimpse into this time of any of the gospels and that’s only a short story of Mary and Joseph losing Jesus only to find Him in the temple courts with the teachers of the law, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke tells us that everyone was amazed at the understanding and wisdom of this child. Then we’re told that He went home with his parents, obeyed them, and grew in wisdom and stature with God and men. So, even as a child, there were glimpses of the man that He would become. But that’s all we know. The same is true for John the Baptist who we see here in the third chapter. We were talking about some bad people in the Bible once and Ethan kept saying that John was the worst, his Sunday School teacher said that John was the worst. We asked him a few more questions and finally I said who are you talking about and he said John the baddest. John may not be the baddest but he is one of the most interesting personalities in all of Scripture. We are told in Luke of the circumstances of His birth and then it tells us:
LK 1:80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
That’s all we know until the time has come for him to fulfill what he was created and called to do. See, John was created to be a sign. He was created to point others towards something.
JN 1:6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
We don’t have a huge building here so there’s not a lot of need for signs inside that tell people where they need to go. We do have a sign, however, that shows where the nursery is. It hangs on the wall around the corner from the nursery and in big bold letters it proclaims the word “nursery.” When people see this sign, they understand that it’s pointing to something else. It is directing people’s attention to the nursery, pointing the way to get there. No one would look at that sign and think that it is the nursery, no, it was created to point to the way we need to go. The same was true of John, that’s why he came. He was not the Messiah, He had simply come to point the way to the Messiah. To draw people’s attention to the direction that they needed to go. John was not the message, he was the messenger. Jesus was the message, He was the king, John was the Herald of the king.
GOD went to great lengths to ensure that the coming of His Son would not be overlooked or missed. I am a big fan of ESPN. One of the things that they do well is to advertise well in advance what they have coming up. For months now they have been advertising Monday Night Football on their station. This doesn’t start until September but they have people thinking about it and waiting for it and expecting it and when it does come, I won’t miss it because I will have looked forward to it for a long time. GOD began to advertise His plan for salvation through the Messiah not months or years ahead of time but centuries beforehand. Through the prophets he would give bits and pieces of information to His people of what was to come. When Monday Night football does come to ESPN, I’m sure that they’ll kick it off with a bang. When God’s Messiah arrived, God trumpeted it from the heavens! The angels sang and rejoiced, the shepherds went and worshipped, the wise men traveled to see Him, what God had advertised throughout the ages was here. God took it one step further. He sent a man to prepare the way for the ministry of His Son. He sent a man to point people to Christ and to proclaim that God’s kingdom was at hand. In the days of kings, each king had Heralds, the Herald was the messenger. The herald would bring news from the king and would announce the arrival of the king. It’s fitting that as we look at the book of Matthew and the theme of “the Return of the King,” that this king too would have a herald, one to shout the news of his arrival and to deliver the news of His coming kingdom. The King had come and His Herald went out and shouted to all the world, the King is coming! Are you ready, the king is coming!