As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?

8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.

9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

10 This is the one about whom it is written,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Matthew 11:7-11 NRSV

John the Baptist – the last of the Old Testament prophets. The lectionary in Advent spends a great deal of time with John and for good reason. He was the one promised by the other prophets to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

In John, we see much more than a warm-up act for Jesus. John embodies the fullness of the Law and clearly shows us its limitations as well. Jesus told us as much when he said, “among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater then he.”

Law always comes before grace. Law is the question and grace is the answer. Law is the guilt and grace is the forgiveness. Law is the guardrail and grace the destination. Law is the realization that we cannot do it ourselves and grace is the reality that Jesus is.

Let us wait in this Advent season under the full weight that we are not enough…but Jesus is. That my friends is the true meaning of hope.

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