by The Rt. Rev. Daniel R. Morse
I. He Makes People Think
The people were expecting the Messiah to come, so when John came they began to think and question whether he was the Messiah or not.
True religion has made a great step forward in a family or parish when people begin to think. Thoughtlessness about spiritual things is one of the main features of unconverted people. They don’t like or dislike the Gospel because they never think about it.
Let us always thank God when we see an inclination to reflect on religious matters because consideration is the road to conversion. Thinking is not faith or repentance, but it is a hopeful sign. When people actually begin to think about the Word of God we ought to be very thankful to God and to be encouraged.
II. He Makes a Difference in His Church
He will purge his threshing floor and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
The visible church is a mixed body of believers and unbelievers, and it is beyond our power or prerogative to separate them. False profession is often so much like the true that right discernment of a person’s true character is impossible. People you thought you knew turn out to be impostors.
But Christ is active in his Church now and at his last coming to separate the true from the false. He will at the end divide the wheat from the chaff, and make no mistakes.
We may see him already at work as those who made profession depart and fall away. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would have continued with us. 1 Jn 2:19
III. He Rewards His Servants
The story is closed with John’s imprisonment, and we know that Herod later beheaded him. John appealed to Herod on the basis of law and justice, but Herod sentenced him out of his own selfish desires and personal interests.
All true servants of Christ must remember that whatever good or bad comes to them in this life, the best is yet to come, and they must not think it strange when they are oppressed by men. The world that persecuted Christ will never hesitate to persecute Christians. Do not marvel if the world hates you. 1 Jn 3:13.
But let us take comfort in the thought that our Lord has laid up in heaven for his people such things as pass our understanding. The blood that his saints have shed will be reckoned for one day. The tears that often flow so freely in consequence of the unkindness of the wicked will one day be wiped away.
And when John the Baptist, and all who have suffered for the truth are at last gathered together, they will find it true that heaven makes amends for all.