And many resorted unto Him, and said, John did no miracle; but all things that John spake of this Man were true.John 10, 41
The man of God and the last of the prophets in Israel – John the Baptist – was the forerunner of Jesus Christ and by the time went slightly ahead of the Messiah sent by God. In the plans of the Eternal God this man was chosen to the glorious work: to prepare the path for Him Who was waited for by all the human history. John had to learn the day and the hour of the appearance of Him, Whom nobody knew (John 1, 26) and to direct the looks of all who waited for salvation to the Savior of the world, to the Redeemer of sinners.
The greatest prophet was at the turn of two significant epochs. One of them concluded the prophetic ministry of the Old Testament, another – began the apostolic devoting of the New Testament. Therefore, by the will of God John was given to Israel in the epochal time for the whole humankind!
Nobody will deny the greatness of the moment the Forerunner was to live in and the greatness of the mission entrusted to John. The more striking is the difference between usual people’s ideas and the real life of devotion. Pay attention to what a detached life this King’s herald of the coming Kingdom of God! He was free from the ties of usual life, spent his youth in isolation living in the wilderness. He was dressed extremely simply – in the raiment of hair. His food was simple – he ate locusts and wild honey. However, with all these how deeply he was devoted in his life-work! His deliberate concentration on God’s call strikes to the innermost of the heart. Nothing could distract him from the predetermined path.
Moreover, blessfully he was led by the Holy Spirit! How clearly John determined the time of appearing of the Man coming after him, but was preferred before him! “And I knew him not: but that he should be manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water” (John 1, 31). John did not step aside or back and fulfilled all what was entrusted to him with faithfulness and joy, of which he said with content, “…this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (John 3, 29).
Many people came to him to be baptized; those who belong to different layers of the society heard the unprejudiced words of conviction and admonition. The talk of him reached to the most remote places, but people said different things of him. Even those were found who doubted the ministry of the righteous man, saying, “…John did no miracle” (John 10, 41). These people did not notice, and, perhaps, even did not want to notice that John himself was the miracle for his people. Miraculous was his calling, glorious was his ministry. And the appreciation, given by Christ, was unsurpassed, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…” (John 11, 11). Not a single man got such a high recognition of God! Why? Because John was very high by the depth of his humility: “…whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose… He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 1, 27; 3, 30). Christ, being the Sun of truth, must rise in all the might, and John, as the bridegroom’s friend, must stand behind and, hearing the Son of God, rejoice of His voice (John 3, 29), and then go from life. How correctly John understood the meaning of his blessed predestination! And how humbly he fulfilled everything!
The fearless evangelist did not at all outshine either by himself or by his daring sermon the magnificent image of the true Lamb offering. “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, - he said about himself, - to make straight the way for Him Who came from the heaven, Who is above all!”
Yes, people noted that John, preaching, did no miracle. The Holy Spirit noted the other thing: “…all things that John spake of this Man were true” (John 10, 41). What a wonderful comment! What a highest level of attestation! All what John proclaimed about Christ was correct, right, and true! To tell so about the Son of God, to tell so the words of life to people – is truly the greatest miracle.
John, having humbly completed the work of his life, went calmly to shadow! First to that of prison for he, like Elijah the prophet, with whose spirit and power he acted, without trembling exposed the king of sin. There in a solitary prison cell John, heard of the works of Christ, sent one of his disciples to ask, “Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” (Mat. 11, 3). Christ comforted John answering that all what the prophet had foretold came true! All, for what the Forerunner came, was fulfilled by the Divine might showed by Christ: “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Mat. 11, 5).
To open the eyes of the blind, to raise the dead from the grave captivity – it can impress anybody! But tell, what miracle is when the poor proclaim the Gospel?! Can the sermon of uneducated, insignificant in the world people cause a sensation, draw somebody’s attention?! These people were just delivered from the captivity of sin, were just cleansed from the scabs of leprosy – and preach already, already proclaim the word of salvation! It is a great miracle! Preaching the Gospel – the highest category of ministry! “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1, 21).
The merits of the ministers of the awakened brotherhood was often determined by some people according to such a feature: does God heal the sick by their prayers, can they exorcise demons? The gifts of miracle-working, of healing are thought to be especially significant, but the work of holy preaching of the Word of the Lord – taken as something common, plain, of little importance. However, the right proclaiming of the truth of Christ to those who are in the dark and in the shade of death, the true revealing of the love of the Heavenly Father without distorting its divine essence – is above all miracles! To bring to the world the greatness of the love of the Father revealed in Jesus Christ and to do it in such a way that it becomes real for the lost that they perceive the Word of life, that it is embodied in their heart and bears fruit into the eternal life – can anything be more glorious than this ministry?!
Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God without compensation, daring, as we must do, building churches under the one Head – Jesus Christ – we should deserve such a high appreciation: all what we said about the Savior of sinners – true! All to what we called the people of God – right! It is true because taken from the pure spring of the Word of the Lord! It is right because it is explained and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit! We should justify so our calling! We should do what we must do so distinctly and so humbly! We should not rush for noisy sensations but concentrate upon the obedience to God, impeccably proclaiming the Gospel of Christ – it is the greatest miracle. Thanks to God, everybody can enter this miracle: both who gospels at unwelcome northern expanses, and who labors at his place. The possibility to be the co-worker of the Gospel is open to every Christian.
Every prophet sent by God, every church minister and every Christian must in his life complete what he was chosen for, what he was given for. We must esteem our sending as once the men of God and prophets esteemed their high, often sorrowful and hard, mission, who strove under any circumstances not to deviate from the main goal of their predestination.
Teach us, Lord, revealing Thy saving mission to the world, not to belittle Thy sufferings of the cross, but to point at Thee as the true Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13, 8)! Help to tell Thy gracious Word so, that many people, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit and by our testimony, will believe in Thee (John 10, 42)!