1. After Jesus had finished charging His twelve disciples, and preparing them for what they were possibly facing, He went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
2. John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison on orders of Herod Antipas (in reaction to his condemnation of Herod's marriage to Herodias, the wife of his brother), and the effects of his incarceration had put John through some changes, both mentally and emotionally. So when he heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent his disciples
3. to ask him, personally "Are you really the One who was to come…the One the prophets talked about…the One we’ve been expecting…the Christ? Or should we part with our illusions concerning you, and start to look for someone else to fit that description?"
4. Jesus, without being defensive, non-emotionally replied to them, "Just go back and simply tell John what you hear and see...
5. All that he needs to know is that the blind are receiving their sight, the lame are walking, those who have leprosy are being cleansed, the deaf are hearing, even the dead are being raised, and the good news is being proclaimed to the disenfranchised and the destitute.
6. And blessed is anyone who accepts this as My validation, without offense because of their perception of Me, and does not even think of asking such a question."
7. But as these disciples were leaving to take Jesus’ pointed reply back to John, He began to speak to the crowd about him, before anyone could form a negative opinion because of this exchange of words...before anyone could bring an accusation against John due to his obvious doubt and insolence. He said to them, "Just what did you think you were going to see out there in the wilderness? A little weakling who doesn’t speak his mind…a reed swayed by the wind?
8. If not, then what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes…a sell-out for the religious establishment? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces, and a shaky reed would never have the nerve to challenge me in this way.
9. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? No doubt…that’s what you wanted to see, and that’s what you did see. But, I tell you…this man, regardless of the mental battle he may be having right now in that lonely prison cell…is still a prophet…more than a prophet, in fact…a prophet, and then some.
10. This is the one about whom Malachi wrote: 'I will send my messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.'
11. This is the absolute truth, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater in history than John the Forerunner. Yet, ironically, in this kingdom which he introduced to you…in this new paradigm where the first shall be last, and the last shall be first…the order of things will be so radically changed, that whoever is perceived to be the least important…the least significant…the least worthy in the kingdom of/from the heavens, is actually greater than he!
12. You see, for a long time now…even from the days when John the Forerunner was at the height of his influence…right up until this very moment…the kingdom of/from the heavens has been subjected to a kind of violence, as it were. People have tried, in one way or another, to literally force themselves into God’s kingdom through their own efforts. Men of passion, like John, have demonstrated this “violence”, and, frankly, it has been allowed, because there was basically no alternative.
13. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied the coming of this kingdom, up until John appeared on the scene, and manifested their prophecies into this reality. They spoke it into spiritual existence, but he literally opened it up for you in the material world.
14. And if you are able and willing to grasp this concept, he is actually the Elijah who was to come.
15. Whoever has discernment, let him perceive what I mean by that."