A Moment with the Bible
After sending John’s messengers back, Jesus takes the opportunity to explain to the multitudes the importance of John’s work. Jesus begins by suggesting a number of reasons why they might have gone out into the wilderness to see John. Was it because he was a “reed shaken by the wind” (an individual who was moved by the fads of the day and would preach what was popular)? Or, were they going to see a man “dressed in soft clothing” (a wealthy celebrity)? No, these were not the things that moved the multitude. Jesus answers His own question. They had gone out to see a prophet. But now Jesus gets to the point: John was more than a prophet; he was the one preparing the way for the coming of the Lord Himself.
Jesus quotes from Malachi 3:1 to identify John as the “messenger of the Lord.” Notice in the quote that God is sending a messenger to prepare the way for His own coming. Malachi had foretold of the arrival of the Messiah who would be the Lord Himself. The Jewish leaders had never understood that the Messiah would actually be God. The Jews looked anxiously for the coming Messiah who would deliver them from their bondage under foreign nations and restore the greatness of the nation of Israel. However, when we read the entire quote of Malachi 3:1-6, we see that Jesus is giving a strong warning. They looked for the Messiah, but when He arrives “who can endure the day of His coming?” (Mal. 3:2). In other words, He would first come in judgment against the Jewish nation purging out the sinners among them so that they would be pure and holy. Therefore, these Jews needed to examine their own lives in light of who had now come in their midst.
The Lord Himself will come one more time in judgment. Most of the “Christian” religious world sees His coming as a good thing. But for many it will not be a good thing. His coming will purge the wicked even though they have been called by His name. Remember the warning from Hebrews 10:30-31, “The Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”