Christ said that John the Baptist was the greatest man ever born of woman. That makes John greater than Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or any of the other prophets. Why? Because those earlier prophets had foretold that Christ would come. But John correctly identified Him when He finally did arrive, pointing to him and saying “Behold the Lamb of God!”  

The Lord asked those who had gone to hear John preaching: “What did you go out to see – a reed swaying in the wind?”  Beside the river Jordan are innumerable tall reeds swaying to and fro in the breeze. Since the time of John the Baptizer, we Christians have so often swayed and bent with every politically correct new daintiness wafting in from the secular world. John never swayed. He was uncompromising, and for his principles he died a martyr’s death. Some might call that ‘rigidity’. Others prefer the word ‘fidelity’.

John was thrown into prison for sticking to his principles. In his dungeon He must have wondered if he had not been mistaken. If Jesus of Nazareth really was the Christ, why were things going so badly? John sent messengers to ask the young rabbi whether He really was the one they had been hoping for, or should they wait for another?  Our Lord told the enquirers to recount  to John what they saw and heard, that the Messianic miracles of restoration foretold by Isaiah were now coming true. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk.

The Prince of Peace brought a far-reaching liberation, not by military conquest but by healing. The great thaw which Christ initiated put an end to Satan’s winter. That great thaw is still producing its miracles of freedom. Christ’s healing breath gives sight to those who are blind to the things of the Spirit. It unstops the ears of those who are deaf to the Word of God. It opens up frozen hearts and closed minds, so that they can once again be free to love and grow. Fettered tongues are loosened to sing God’s praises and preach His mighty works in words which pass the power of human speech. Advent is fulfilled at Pentecost.