St. John the Baptist: The Greatest Prophet

St. Romanos the Melodist imagines in his lyrics what Jesus might have said to St. John the Baptist when in Matthew 3:13-17 the Forerunner protested to Jesus that he should not baptize Jesus but rather himself needed to be baptized by the Lord.

“I am not asking, Baptist, that you overstep the bounds; I do not

say, ‘Say to me

what you say to offenders,’ nor ‘Give me the advice you give sinners.’

Simply baptize me in silence, and expectation of what will follow

the baptism.

Because in this way you will gain a dignity which does not belong

to angels, for I will also make you greater than all the prophets.

Not one of them saw me clearly,

but only in types and shadows and dreams.

But as he stands before you by his own will,

you see, you grasp

the unapproachable light.”

(On the Life of Christ, p. 43-44)

John is considered to belong to the Old Testament prophets, but in Orthodoxy he is the greatest of the prophets (see Matthew 11:9-11) for he saw his Lord and Messiah not only in shadows and from a distance  but saw Him face to face, spoke with Him and baptized Him.  On June 24 in the Orthodox Church we commemorate the birth of John the Forerunner of the Lord (see Luke 1).