Impact—There’s a “Matthew 11” waiting in the wings

By the Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  He answered, “No.”

Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:19-23[1])

Crowds of thousands were leaving the cities and braving the heat of the desert to hear John the Baptist preach his message. Hundreds were responding to his unashamed appeal to repent and turn to God. Yes, John was in the height of his ministry but he didn’t see the big picture. He didn’t truly realize the impact he was making. In fact, he didn’t even know who he really was.

News of John’s preaching spread all over the region. So, the religious leaders made their trek out to the wilderness as well. They wanted to see what all the commotion was about. Why were so many drawn to the sound of his voice? The religious leaders wanted to find out what the source of the power was in this preacher’s words. “Who are you?” they demanded. What they were really asking was, “Who gave you the authority to do what you’re doing? We certainly didn’t!”

John hadn’t followed protocol. He didn’t go to Jerusalem to preach as prophets had always done. No, he didn’t go to Jerusalem. Jerusalem came to him!

“Are you Elijah, the Prophet, who is to precede Messiah?” they asked. John’s answer was astonishing. “No, I am not!” John said, “No.” Yet, Jesus clearly stated in Matthew 11 that John was The Prophet and mush more!

Matthew 11

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? [A metaphor for something weak or wavering] 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. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’” [Malachi 3:1]

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he [because John prepares for, but does not fully participate in the blessings of the kingdom]. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, [Or has been forcefully advancing] and violent [forceful] people have been raiding it [Or forcefully laying hold of it]. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah [in spirit] who was to come.” 

Why did John say “No,” to the inquiry of the priests and Levites? I think that he honestly saw himself as little more than a country preacher. John knew that there was a distinct call on his life and found his identity in the words of Isaiah as “one calling in the desert.” However, was he aware of the impact that his ministry was having? Did John know the influence his life would have on history? I don’t believe he did.

John was a lot like a lot of us in that respect. We don’t often see the big picture. Therefore, we don’t see the importance of our role in God’s grand design. Besides chances are we may never know, this side of Heaven, the impact our life is having on those around us. You may think that you have little to offer God and others, but there’s a “Matthew 11” waiting in the wings. In other words, you may not know the impact your life is having… but God does!


Video version of this message at
[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2001, 2005 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


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