The Greatest Prophet of All dougfloyd 12/2003 Luke 3:4 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the

way of the LORD…” Elijah calls down fire from heaven. Isaiah writes breathtaking poetry about the coming Messiah. Ezekiel sees strange visions. Daniel helps rule an empire. The prophets of Lord counsel kings, direct wars, and leave a legacy of signs and wonders. But what about the greatest prophet of all? His legacy is known through his absence. He left no literary masterpieces. He had no record of dramatic signs and wonders. He led no armies into battle. He lived and died in the shadows. John the Baptist appears and disappears and leaves virtually no trace. Even his own disciples eventually leave him to follow another. He does not appear with angels, fire from heaven or miraculous visions. He appears as only a voice: the voice of one crying. Stripped of visible identity, this prophet appears anonymously as a voice that cries out. No fancy titles like the “Greatest Living Prophet.” Simply a voice crying out. This is not the thunder of Elijah, but the tears of Jeremiah. John the Baptist appears as a weeping prophet. We may imagine him prophesying in great anger because his words of a coming baptism of fire sound so ominous. But he is not shouting, he is crying. A broken heart spills out deep anguish over the bankruptcy of his people. This nameless prophet simply cries. As a forerunner, he bears the image of the Man of Sorrows. Like Jesus, he weeps. A prophet of the Lord may bring the word of judgment, but he also comes prepared to bear the judgment. Jesus brought a sword and not peace, but the sword he brought pierced his own soul. He bore the judgment in the great and awful Day of the Lord. John the Baptist is not crying out in the city square or even on the temple steps. He cries out in the wilderness: the wilderness of that place that is no place. It is nowhere. The anonymous voice of the crying prophet dwells in wastelands. He is stripped of title, recognition, place and eventually breath. His death seems almost as obscure and strange as his life. John the Baptist dies as Herod’s party favor to his step-daughter. While alive, he cried out, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” Death didn’t stop the cry. Even today, the cry continues to go before the Lord, preparing the way. May we listen and head the call. May we watch and wait. May we behold the Lamb of God. Like John, if we but see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, we willingly abandon all else. During these dark days of Advent, may we be ever watchful for the Light of the World. Like John, may we decrease, so that Jesus Christ might increase. Let us follow John the Baptist into the shadows, letting go our need to be recognized, our need to know it all, our need to be on top, our firm footing. The glory of the Son of God is so beautiful, so wonderful, so breathtaking, if we but catch a glimpse, we realize all that we are and all that we know is dust, and

we respond in the only way possible: unending adoration.