The ministry of John the Baptist was a ministry of preparation. He was to prepare the way for the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a similar ministry of preparation in this day in respect to the coming of the Lord. It was necessary then and so it is now. This time it will not be one individual like John the Baptist. It will be a company – a John the Baptist Company, so to speak. This coming of the Lord that I’m referring to is not a personal return of Jesus as an individual, but a spiritual coming of His presence within a people. When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day. II Thessalonians 1:10.
John’s ministry was a preparation for the ministry of Jesus Christ. And in like manner there is a ministry of preparation for the ministry of the Lord that will take place through the Body of Christ in these days. Now if you study the scriptures concerning the Body of Christ and compare it to the churches of today, you will find they are not very similar. The functioning Body of Christ is a remnant within Christianity. All Christians are not functioning actively as members of the Body of Christ. After Paul spoke to the Thessalonians about this spiritual coming within His saints, he said, We pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling…that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (II Thessalonians 1:11-12). Paul was speaking to Christians, telling them that he was praying that they would be counted worthy of this calling. This coming of the Lord’s presence does not take place in all Christians, just in those that are worthy by God’s grace.
Matthew 11:1-3 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of
commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
3 And said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?
John had known who Jesus was. When he saw Jesus approaching him at the river Jordan, he said, Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John knew the scriptures in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah, and he knew that Jesus was the Messiah. Nevertheless, when Jesus began His ministry it was so different from what John was expecting that he began wondering, “Is He the One to come or do we look for another?”
Look at verse two again, When John had heard in the prison the works of Christ…. When John heard of His works, His ministry, then he sent two of his disciples to find out if He was the one who he was to prepare the way for. The ministry of Christ was so different from what John was expecting that he wasn’t sure about it.
Matthew 11:4-5 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John
again those things which ye do hear and see:
5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.
Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would do these things when He came (Isaiah 35). John would know that. So Jesus told John’s disciples to go back and tell him that these things were being done.
Matthew 11:6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.
That is exactly what happened to John the Baptist! The ministry of Christ was so different from what he thought it should be that he was stumbling over it, “Maybe He isn’t the One who should come.”
I was reading this portion of Scripture recently and the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, “The ministry of Christ is going to break forth very soon. And it will be so different from what is expected that many Christians won’t be able to receive it as being of the Lord.” As soon as He spoke that to my heart I was reminded of John 1:11. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. That verse had its first fulfillment with the appearing of Jesus the Messiah. The coming of the Messiah was not a new concept to the Jews. The scribes and Pharisees taught it continuously in the synagogues. And because they were under Roman rule at that time there was much hope for the Messiah, the Son of David, to come and deliver them from the Roman oppression. But when Jesus came He didn’t do what they were expecting. He came casting out demons, healing the sick, and leading a band of unlearned fishermen and outcasts. Well, they couldn’t accept that. They could not believe He was the Messiah. He didn’t fit the mold they had made for Him. He was too different. It couldn’t be Him! Well, that is the way it is going to be in these days, too.
John the Baptist was called of God to prepare the way for the ministry of Christ. He had a revelation of Him when He came down to the river Jordan to be baptized. But when Jesus began ministering John stumbled over it; he wasn’t sure he had prepared the right ministry. John’s ministry was in God’s perfect will. He was the anointed man of God for that time. Yet he was shaken when Christ began His ministry. He just wasn’t expecting that!
Jesus told His disciples, I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth (John 16:12-13). Listen! The ministry of Christ is coming, and His ministry is going to involve things that we don’t know about now. He will be speaking things and revealing things that we know absolutely nothing about. Will we be able to receive the ministry of Christ in these days as He brings forth the culmination of the age? If the preparation ministry can be shaken what will happen to the rest of Christianity?
Jesus has given us many warnings. For example, He said, “No man puts new wine in an old wineskin” (Matthew 9:17). The old wineskins are brittle and inflexible. Christians tend to be that way. They have their molds, “This is what God is like”; “this is what He does”; “this is the little area He moves in.” But the Lord doesn’t fit in those little man-made molds. He has His own way of doing things. Imagine that! Who would expect the Lord to move outside of the parameters of our beliefs? But He does! Hasn’t He always done that?
Joshua had an experience similar to John the Baptist. Joshua followed the leading of the Lord right along with Moses. He saw the miracles God did in Egypt. He served Moses in the wilderness and stood firm in the faith when others withdrew. When Moses died, Joshua was the man God commissioned to lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. After crossing the Jordan and making camp, Joshua saw a man with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua didn’t recognize him and he asked, “Are you for us or against us?” And the man said, “No, I have come as the Captain of the host” (Joshua 5:13-15). It was a manifestation of the Lord Himself.
We are at such a time in this day. We’re facing the Kingdom of God, our Promised Land. It’s time to go in and conquer, to cast out the demonic forces. And the Lord is the Captain of this army. He will look far different from how we have known Him in the past. His ministry through His saints will not be accepted by some. There will be some that will be offended by Him even among those who were in the will of the Lord preparing for this day (Matthew 11:1-6).
We must be flexible! It is one thing to be a part of the preparation ministry; it is quite another thing to receive it when it comes. We are right on the verge of a tremendous move of God. Many Christians are crying out for revival. But when He comes they will reject Him, because it won’t be what they expect. It won’t exalt and glorify their flesh. He is coming to be glorified and admired in His saints (II Thessalonians 1:10). He will be glorified and admired, not our flesh. This whole thing is to glorify Him!
Many of the ministers who have made a big name for themselves and their ministry will not be involved. The Lord will pass them right by and move through an humble people, a little flock, as in the days of old. We must be prepared for this day. I’m giving you what the Lord gave me. And I believe it with all my heart. We must be able to learn new things, new ways. If we don’t, we will be left out of this great move of God. Now, back to our text.
Matthew 11:7-10 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the
multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed
shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in king’s houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.
Don’t think less of John’s ministry than you should. He was sent of God. The ministry of Christ could not have taken place without his ministry of preparation.
Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Of all the men of God throughout the ages, not one was greater than John the Baptist. He was a man called and anointed of God. I’m trying to tell you something. Regardless of where we are spiritually, we may not be able to recognize the coming ministry as being of the Lord. We could stumble just like John the Baptist did if we are not really prepared for it.
Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
This is not violence in a bad sense. A better word would be “intensity.” The Kingdom of heaven is going to allow intensity, and those who are intense will take it by force. Some would say, “Oh, but we have a promise. The Lord said, Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Yes! It is His good pleasure to give it to you. And it is just like everything else that He gives you. You will have to take it! You will have to fight for it! You will have to wrestle with Him just like Jacob did. You say, “But He is going to give it to me.” Yes, He’s giving it to you to take. Appropriation! That is the way it works!
Matthew 11:13-15 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until
14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
When Jesus says, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear, it means that He is saying something that the natural mind can’t grasp. You need a special capacity to understand and only God can create it. Now let’s go back to verse 12.
Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now…
The Greek word for “now” is arti. It means exactly what it is, “now!” Right now! in the present! What does it mean when we say that God is eternal? It means He is always in the present. He that cometh to God must believe that He is. Hebrews 11:6. Many times Jesus referred to Himself as “I am.” Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58.
Most historians will tell you that it is impossible for man to do or say anything in the present, because the moment it is done it is past. So they say that everything is history. If it happened, it is history. But it isn’t that way with God. God is eternal, and everything He does and says is in the “now.”
So, from the days of John the Baptist until now, until the “now realm.” There is going to be a “now people,” a people that are living in the present. That means they will have broken through into eternity, to know like God knows, to be a “now people.”
Matthew 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
All ministry until John was predictive ministry. They prophesied of what was to come, what was to be. But Jesus is saying, “Now is the now realm.” Now He is taking ministry out of the prophetic mode and bringing it into the now mode. John the Baptist and all the prophets before him were locked-in to a predictive ministry, “This is what is going to be.” But when it starts happening it is different from what you thought it would be. It is very difficult for Christians to change their way of thinking from the future to the present.
It is recorded in Luke 4:16-21 that Jesus went into the synagogue and stood up to read. He opened the scroll to Isaiah, what we know as chapter 61, and read. Then He closed the scroll and said, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. He took prophecy in the predictive mode and brought it into the “now realm.” That doesn’t set well with religious folk. As long as it is in the future it is acceptable. But when you bring into the “now realm” people have a problem with it. Christianity, in general, only views the Scriptures historically and futuristic. John 9:22 says that the Jews had predetermined that if anyone confessed that Jesus was the Christ he was to be put out of the synagogue. That is what religion does, keeps it in the future. “Don’t bring it into the present. Let’s keep the coming of the Lord in the future so we don’t have to deal with it.”
But there is a “now realm,” and He is coming forth in a “now people” in a “now way.” It is going to be a “now” ministry of Christ, not something of the future. It is not going to be predictive, but a present reality. It is going to upset the religious realm. They won’t be able to handle it. The majority of churches won’t be able to accept the ministry of Christ, because it is taken out of the future and put in the present. “Oh, we like to worship the Lord as long as He is in the future. But don’t bring Him down here!"
We will have to consider this. I didn’t dream it up. This is Scripture, and it is what the Lord is speaking. We can see from the example of John and the ministry of Jesus that it is going to happen again.
Now let’s take a look at a few scriptures where this Greek word for “now” (arti) is used.
Matthew 23:39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth (arti), till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Where is the “now”? The King James translators decided to translate arti differently in this verse, but it means the same thing. It means “now!” It is the “now realm.” So Jesus is saying, “You shall not see Me in this now realm until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.’” Who is He talking about? Who is this “he that comes in the name of the Lord”? It is the “man company” in Ephesians 4:13. It is those of II Thessalonians 1:10 in whom He is being glorified. It is the Lord ministering through the Body of Christ. But as long as Christians are looking for Him in the future, they won’t see Him in those He is ministering in now. That is what He is talking about. “You won’t see Me in this now realm until you see Me in those that are coming in the name of the Lord.”
Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter (arti) shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Here the Greek word, arti, is translated “hereafter.” “Hereafter” puts it in the future. The word means “now”! Jesus is saying, “Now! It is in the now that you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.” It is only as you enter into this “now realm.” Get out of the predictive stage! Get out of the future and enter into the “now realm” where God operates. He is present in the present! He is I am! He is eternal! God doesn’t operate in the past or the future. He functions in the now. But we have to come into the “now realm.” And that is what He is talking about here. You will receive your revelations of the Lord when you are in the “now realm.” As long as you are putting Him in the future, you are in the predictive mode and He will not be revealed to you.
John 1:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter (arti) ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
When we read “hereafter,” we throw it into the future - “One day this is what we are gong to see.” But the Greek word for “hereafter” is arti. It is “now”! In the “now realm” you shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. It is in the “now realm” that you will be aware of the ministry of the Lord. The spirit realm will open up to you when you come into the “now realm.” As long as it is future, the “now realm” is closed.
The time from the law and the prophets until John the Baptist is the predictive stage. Do you realize that the majority of churches today are still in the predictive realm? They are predicting what is going to take place. They are not ministering the life of the Lord in the present. This is what we have to do! What good does it do for me to tell you what the Bible says is going to happen in the future? It won’t help you at all. But if I can minister the presence of the Lord to your spirit so that you’re meeting Him in the present (the now realm), then change comes to you. You change spiritually, making progress in what God wants you to be. That is real ministry! That is Kingdom ministry! That is the establishing of the Body of Christ! Predictive ministry won’t do it!
John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto (arti), and I work.
Here the Greek word arti is translated “hitherto.” Jesus is saying, “My Father works in the now realm, and I work in the same realm.” If you want to know what the Father is doing, if you want to be involved in the ministry of Christ, then you have to be in the “now realm.”
We must not put everything off into the future. We must ascend spiritually to the “now realm.” God is not future! He doesn’t say, “He that cometh to Me must believe that I will be.” Let’s read it like it is. He that cometh to God must believe that He is. Hebrews 11:6. As long as He is future, you can’t come to Him.
John 14:7 If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth (arti) ye know Him, and have seen Him.
From the “now realm” you will know Him and see Him. If you can break through into this “now realm,” you will know Him and see Him. You won’t see a visible figure; you will see Him in the sense that you will have a relationship with Him, and an understanding of Him that you could not have otherwise. You will know Him! That is what He is talking about.
We are in a time of a great transition. The way the Lord relates to His people is changing, and we must be flexible to make the transition.
Isaiah 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
This is what the Lord is doing right now. He is telling us of this new realm of the “now” before it springs forth.
Isaiah 43:18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
You know how people are; human nature always opposes change. There is an old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I don’t believe that! The Lord is going to teach us some new things. And those that are inflexible and can’t learn something new are going to be in big trouble.
The Lord says, “Don’t remember the former things; don’t get caught up in the form.” But the one opposed to change says, “Oh, but I’ve got it all worked out. This is the way You have to move, Lord. This is the way You have to do it. Besides, this is the way You have always done it before. You have to do it this way.”
Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now (in the “now realm”) it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
Are you aware of what is taking place? Or, will you be like those Pharisees, “That’s not the Messiah! I can’t accept him”? Many Christians can only relate to Christ in the future; they can’t relate to Christ in the “now.” But this is where the reality of the Lord is found.
We are going to be faced with the ministry of Christ in a way that we haven’t known it in the past. And we will have to be flexible, or we’ll miss it. I don’t want to be like those scribes and Pharisees, unable to receive Christ in the present. We must understand that He is in the “now.” Don’t you know that Satan doesn’t want you to enter the “now realm”? He wants you to keep the Lord in the future, “One day He is going to come back.” He is coming back. It’s happening now. “One day that man of sin, the antichrist, will come on the scene.” The antichrist spirit is already here. It’s working in the churches, keeping them in the predictive mode, keeping them looking to the future. Satan is no dummy! He knows that as long as he has you looking to the future, you won’t be aware of what is happening now. Come alive to the “now realm.” That is where the reality of Christ is.
Copyright © 2000 by Henry DuBose