This is Wednesday of the second week of Lent. The reading is Matthew 11, with a focus on 1-19. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)
Wright pursues an interesting thought here, that when Jesus is asked ‘are you the king we were looking for’ he can’t just say ‘yes’ because that would set political moves in motion (both from the crowds and from Herod) that are either just wrong or premature. But in many ways he answers more powerfully by turning the spotlight back to John the Baptist as ‘Elijah who was to come.’ If Jesus was a college professor he would have said at that point ‘If John is Elijah, the forerunner depicted in the book of Malachi, then who I am will be left as an exercise for the student!’ He’s the arrival the forerunner was sent to announce.
Malachi 4:5 (ESV)
5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
For those who’ve been waiting for a little bit more classical media, I was attracted this morning to Handel’s Messiah. Isaiah 40 is the other Old Testament passage which the New Testament sees as pointing to the ministry of John the Baptist. Handel’s settings of Isaiah 40, Comfort Ye, Every Valley and And the Glory of the Lord are wonderful.
Here’s that text: Isaiah 40:1-5 (KJV)
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins. 3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.