Pt-2, Parallels and comparisons with Elijah & Jesus Matthew 3:1-12
It was the practice in the time of Jesus, for forerunners to precede important individuals in order to prepare the way for their arrival. For example, when a king visited a town in his realm, his emissaries would go before him to announce and prepare for his visit. They would make sure that the town was in good condition to receive him. Sometimes his servants even had to do or arrange for minor roadwork to smooth the highway that the king would be taking as he approached his destination. John the Baptist not only prepared the way for Jesus, but he also announced Him as an important person and implied His royalty. But John did something more than prepare the way. John himself walked a parallel path in advance to Jesus in that he preceded Jesus’ conception in his annunciation by the angel Gabriel, in his miraculous birth, in public appearance, in his pointed message to Israel about the kingdom of God, and in the cause and manner of his death.
But the Bible, and Jesus himself, draws a strong parallel between John and the OT prophet Elijah (Luke 1:17, Matt 11:11-15). In a time of spiritual and moral decline and theological apostasy, Elijah called his people from indifference and playing both spiritual sides into a sharp crisis of faith: Choose God or Baal – you can’t have both. And Elijah called down fire from heaven to make his point! John likewise called his people into a sharp crisis of faith, and into making a public declaration of it by baptism, and he promised that the one that followed him would call down a kind of fire from heaven. Let us heed the spirit of the preaching of both John and of Jesus! Let us likewise respond instantly and thoroughly to the Word of God! Let us not be lukewarm to Jesus’ call to belief and action, but snappy and refreshing!