(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 8 of Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well.)
As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? .... A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.' Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist." -Matthew 11:7-11
In Chapter 8 of Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur, we learn about our next unlikely hero, John the Baptist. The reason John the Baptist is an unlikely hero according to John MacArthur, is because "nothing in his life fit the model associated with greatness". (p. 152) That is, until he "cleared" the way for the Messiah.
The following are the points that really showed how John the Baptist was an unlikely hero: (I do encourage you to read the full chapter to completely understand who John the Baptist is.)
* Nothing about his lineage, his contrary social behavior, his external appearance, or his diet suggested that he should be considered anything but odd. (p. 152)
* Nothing in his life fit the model associated with greatness. (p. 152)
* Incredibly, the Lord not only declared him to be a great man, but the greatest man who had ever lived. (p. 152)
* He was the greatest person who had ever lived up to that time, both in terms of task and privilege. (p. 153)
* As the preacher privileged to announce the arrival of the Messiah, John's calling was more lofty and sacred than that of anyone who had come before him. His was the first prophetic voice to echo throughout the Judean hillside since the prophet Malachi went silent four hundred years earlier. (p. 159)
* Like his predecessors, John faithfully pointed people forward to Christ, but unlike the other Jewish prophets, he lived to see the fulfillment of his words. (p. 159)
* After millennia of anticipation and prophetic promises, John was selected for the unparalleled privilege of being the Messiah's personal herald. (p. 159)
* ...the herald's responsibility was two-fold: to proclaim the king's coming and to prepare the way for his arrival. (p. 159)
* ...through his Spirit-empowered preaching on repentance and faith, he sought to remove the obstacles of unbelief from the hearts of sinful men and women. (p. 160)
* John declared that if the people would turn from their rebellious pride and embrace a life of wholehearted obedience, they would be ready for the Messiah. (p. 160)
* He preached with such conviction and authority that some who heard him thought he might actually be the Messiah himself. But John quickly dismissed such misguided rumors. (p. 161)
* John knew his position and his task. Thus he never sought honor for himself, but only for the One whose coming he proclaimed. (p. 161)
* The faithful forerunner had fulfilled his mission to proclaim Christ's coming and prepare the way for His arrival. (p. 164)
* After this point, John intentionally sought a diminishing role as he continued to point people away from himself and toward Jesus Christ. (p. 164)
* Without question, John was a true believer in the Lord Jesus and a loyal prophet of God who had proven himself faithful. (p. 166)
* Throughout his life, John exhibited genuine humility, passionate devotion to God's revelation, and a Christ-centered focus. (p. 167)
What do we learn from John the Baptist? How is he one of our heroes? I believe that it is because still to this day, John the Baptist is preparing the path of the Messiah to us. Through his life, his story and his faithfulness to God, we learn how to find Jesus. Look back at the one point above that John MacArthur made:
John knew his position and his task. Thus he never sought honor for himself, but only for the One whose coming he proclaimed.
Do you know your position and your task? Are you seeking honor for yourself or for God?
Look what else John MacArthur wrote on page 160:
John declared that if the people would turn from their rebellious pride and embrace a life of wholehearted obedience, they would be ready for the Messiah.
Are you ready for Jesus? What do we need to learn in this life now to prepare us for eternity? What selfish pride and desires do we need to get rid of to be able to live the life that God has prepared for us? It's very easy for all of us to proclaim the desire to be baptized. It easy for us to put on the religious rituals. However, our hearts need to be in the right place. We are all sinners. None of us are perfect. The only thing we can continue to do in this life is admit our sins, ask for forgiveness and strive to become a better person.
I think it's awesome that so many heroes in the Bible continue to teach us today. John the Baptist is such a hero. His faithfulness to Christ is such a great example of how we should live today. Not questioning...not in it for ourselves or our honor...but in it for His glory.