By Ken Blue
Matthew 11:13 “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”
At this point in John’s ministry he finds himself in Jail, and is beginning to question his mission, and if Jesus was the Christ. This in no way diminishes the character or ministry of John. Like all great men, John was operating in the limited light he had. The rejection and death of Christ was not part of that light.
Jesus sends his disciples with a message of reassurance, and then turns to the crowd exonerating John, and explaining his ministry. In the context of the light John had, and the nature of his ministry, he was greater than all men were. However, as great as John was, the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, when it is established, will be greater. That means that John was not in the Kingdom, and that it was not his to offer.
John’s ministry was a pre-kingdom ministry. His task was to get Israel to repent, and to prepare the way for the King. Israel would show their repentance as illustrated in his baptism. However, their sins were never taken away at baptism. That will happen when Christ returns to Israel to establish His Kingdom with them. “Acts 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”
John was not the last of the prophets, nor did the Law end with his ministry. Even a casual reading of the four gospels shows that the Law of Moses was still in practice, and that prophets were present. Prophecy ended with the book of Revelation, and the Law of Moses ended when it was nailed to the cross in Christ. Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”
The idea here is that the Old Testament prophets merely foretold Christ’s coming. John’s ministry was greater than that of all the prophets. He was privileged to have the ministry of baptizing converts in preparation of their King. His ministry was also to introduced Him to Israel. John 3:29 “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.”
John is never called “a Baptist,” He was “the Baptist,” because his ministry was one of baptizing “unto repentance.” He was never a member of the Kingdom of Heaven, nor the body of Christ. He was martyred before the church, which was a mystery started, or the Kingdom offer was withdrawn from Israel. Every Baptist knows that there is no such thing as the Baptist Church.
Finally, John’s ministry is unique in that his was a transition ministry. The former prophets foretold of Christ’s coming; whereas, John proclaims that He was there, and he was preparing the way for Him. The failure to rightly divide the Word of God, even concerning Johns ministry, has led to all kinds of divisions, bitterness, and false teachings. The statement that John was the greatest man born of women was not all inclusive without exception. (Matt. 11:11). The emphasis should be on the word “prophets,” not on, “…until John.”
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.