Matt 11:12-14 John the Baptist – Elijah CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This lesson simply sets out why Jesus said about John the Baptist, “… this is Elias, which was for to come,” (Matt 11:14). In order to understand this statement, it is necessary to go back beyond “the beginning” to see what God had planned for this time in Jesus’ earthly ministry. There are actually three plans we need to see.
The first plan was for a lamb to be slain. Rev 13:8 speaks of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This is a reference to Jesus. The decision that he would have to die for us was made from the foundation of the world. Therefore, we see a common thread throughout the Old Testament of lambs slain, foreshadowing the death of Jesus Christ.
· In Gen 3:21 lambs had to shed their blood for Adam and Eve to have coats of skins. This was the first blood of an innocent lamb slain for sin.
· In Gen 4:4, Abel offered a lamb, a firstling of the flock as an offering to God.
· In Gen 22:13, God substituted “a ram caught in a thicket by his horns” for Isaac in a sacrifice to God.
· In Ex 12:3-7, the Jews had to kill the Passover lamb and apply its blood to their houses to keep from dying in the plague of the death of the firstborn.
So, when Jesus was manifest by John the Baptist to Israel, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” (Jn 1:29).
The second plan was for God’s Son to reign as King. Ps 2:6-7 speaks of God setting, “my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” And goes on to say of this king, “Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.” Is. 9:6-7 shows that this coming king is God. He will have an everlasting reign on earth upon the throne of David.
Thus, when Jesus was born, the wise men came to Herod and asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?”
These two plans, for a lamb slain and for a Son to reign, ran concurrently in the Old Testament and were prophesied to occur simultaneously at the first coming of Christ (see Gen 49:9-12 and Zech 9:9). Hence, when Jesus was crucified, the saying that was written above the dying Lamb’s head read, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Jesus was supposed to suffer first (the Lamb) and then reign shortly after his resurrection (the King); the crown of thorns and then the crown of glory (2 Pet 1:11; Lk 24:25-26).
The third plan was for a messenger or a forerunner to herald this Lamb and King’s coming. The prophecies concerning this messenger are found in Mal 3:1 and Is 40:3-4. The messenger who was prophesied to come is Elijah (Mal 4:5). Thus, when Jesus appeared on the Mt. of Transfiguration, Elijah appeared with him (Matt 17:3). This appearance was in the context of Jesus coming in his kingdom (Matt 16:28).
On the way down from the mountain, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?” (Matt 17:10). The scribes were referring to Mal 4:5 and had obviously used this as an argument against Jesus being the Messiah since, to their knowledge, Elijah hadn’t come yet. Jesus’ answer to their question shows you that God was ready to fulfill his plans as prophesied in the Old Testament at Jesus’ first coming. Jesus told the disciples, “Elias is come already, and they knew him not …” And they understood that “he spake unto them of John the Baptist,” (Matt 17:11-13). So, according to Jesus, John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecies of the messenger of Mal 3 and Is 40.
In other words, if the Jews had accepted Jesus as their Messiah and as their King on the throne of David at his first coming, then John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy that Elias must first come. Like Jesus said in Matt 11:14, “this is Elias, which was for to come.” If, however, the Jews rejected their king and his kingdom, then God was prepared for Elijah to return in Rev 11 to be the messenger before the Second Coming. Everything hinged on Matt 11:14, “… if ye will receive it …” When the Jews rejected Jesus as their king (Jn 19:15), God’s plans were not altered except to the extent that the period between the suffering and the earthly reign has been stretched out to nearly 2000 years. You can still count on Jesus coming back to take the throne of David and to rule on earth. And you can count on Elijah being here to tell them that he’s coming.