[Talking to the crowds about John the Baptist, Jesus continued:] "For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!"
— Matthew 11:13-15 NLT
John is Elijah who has come back. This is more than just a novelty; he is the signal of a new time, a new age. Jesus is accepting all of John's predictions of the Messiah:
- "The Kingdom of Heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2).
- "[Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matthew 3:11).
- "He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork" (Luke 3:17).
- "Clear the way for the LORD's coming" (John 1:23).
- "He has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else" (John 3:31).
- "He is sent by God. He speaks God's words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit" (John 3:34).
As Matthew so carefully does throughout his Good News message, he wants us to understand that Jesus is not disconnected from Israel's past, but he is the guarantor that the promises of the prophets in Israel's past are now coming true. Great things are happening and the Great One is here.
Holy God, thank you for Jesus' confidence in his identity and his role in your great drama of deliverance. Thank you for being faithful to your promises all these many years. Give me courage to faithfully follow Jesus while also understanding him better by getting better acquainted with your work all throughout the Old Testament. In the name of Jesus, the One in whom every "Amen" is spoken and every promise finds its "yes," I pray. Amen.