by Clarence E. Macartney

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John the Baptist - The Friend of the Bridegroom (11 of 15)
Series: The Greatest Men of the Bible
Clarence E. Macartney
Matthew 11:11

Once on a bright June day I stood upon a summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains. To the north and to the south stretched the mountains, their mighty shoulders draped with a haze of infinite blue. In front of me lay the Cumberland Valley, well-watered, like the garden of the Lord. I could see the fields and orchards with their alternate hues like checkered squares; the white ribbons that marked the fine highways along which half a century ago might have been seen the eager soldiery of Lee as his army marched into Pennsylvania; the enormous red barns, the white towers of the hamlet churches, the gray stone farmhouses, and man going forth to his labor until the evening. I had often passed through that valley, but it was only when I stood upon the summit of the mountain that I was able to see it in all its length and breadth.

There are times when it is good for us to get above the smoke and dust and confusion of our everyday existence and look at life from some great eminence where the winds blow fresh and clear and the view is unobstructed. And what better place to stand than upon the shoulders of one of God's great men?

In his life of Thomas Carlyle, John Nicholl quotes a saying of Hegel that ''a great man condemns the world to the task of explaining him.'' In the case of John the Baptist such condemnation is neither unpleasant nor unprofitable. John's brief and fiery ministry of judgment and repentance had come to a close. Because of his fearless denunciation of Herod and Herodias for their adulterous union, John had been cast into prison. There in the lonely dungeon of Machaerus on the shore of the Dead Sea, John's mighty spirit began to flag and his eagle eye began to film with doubt. ''Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?'' That was the question John sent to Jesus from the dungeon. The answer of Christ w ...

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