As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
Matthew 11 : 7 – 10
John was the celebrity of his day. Everyone had heard of him and many had even travelled out to the desert to see him in the flesh. And yet despite his popularity it seems that most people hadn’t actually listen to what John was saying. Jesus reminded them “you didn’t go out to hear John for nothing, or because of his fancy clothes, you went to see him because he was a prophet”. And if John was a prophet then maybe you should listen to what he was prophesying?
It seems like people were caught up in the idea of John the Baptist: this wild, charismatic preacher living in the desert, eating locusts and honey, but they hadn’t actually listened to his message. They had appreciated the style of John’s preaching but missed the substance. So they didn’t realise that John was actually pointing to Jesus. John’s ministry was the prequal to what Jesus would do, but the people could not yet see that.
This is still a challenge for us today. How do we get past the surface level of Jesus’s teaching and instead grapple with the substance of what he was saying.
Prayer: God of Wisdom, help me to see past the surface level and engage with your word on a deeper level.
Action: Read today’s verse again, carefully, and see if there is anything you missed the first time around.