For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.
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Augustine of Hippo
Doctr. Christ., iii, 12: In all such things we blame not the use of the things, but the lust of those that use them. For whoever uses the good things in his reach more sparingly than are the habits of those with whom he lives, is either temperate or superstitious. Whoever again uses them in a measure exceeding the practice of the good among whom he lives, either has some meaning therein, or else is dissolute.
Hom in Ev. vi. 2: This He proposes, not to assert, but to deny. For if but abreath of air touch a reed, it bends it one way or other; a type of the carnal mind, which leans to either side, according as the breath of praise or detraction reaches it.A reed shaken by the wind John was not, for no variety of circumstance bent him from his uprightness. The Lord’s meaning then is.
Hom in Ev., vi., 3: Let no one suppose that there is nothing sinful in luxury and rich dress; if pursuit of such things had been blameless, the Lord would not have thus commended John for the coarseness of his raiment, nor would Peter have checked the desire of fine clothes in women as he does, “Not in costly raiment.” .
Hom. in Ev., vi. 5: The office of a prophet is to foretel things to come, notto show them present. John therefore is more than a prophet, because Him whom he had foretold by going before Him, the same he showed as present by pointing Him out.
Also John was not “clothed in soft raiment,” that is, he...
Therefore that this might not lead them to think of John as though he were offended concerning Christ, it continues, “When they had gone away, Jesus began to speak to the multitudes concerning John. ”What went ye out into the wilderness tosee?” As much as to say, Why did ye leave the towns and go out into the wilderness? So great multitudes would not have gone with such haste into the desert, if they had not thought that they should see one great, and wonderful, one more stable than the rock.
Was it for this ye went out into the desert to see a man like unto a reed, and carried about by every wind, so that in lightness of mind he doubts concerning Him whom once he preached? Or it may be he is roused against Me by the sting of envy, and he seeks empty honour by his preaching, that he may thereof make gain. Why should he covet wealth? that he may have dainty fare? But his food is locusts and wild honey. That he may wear soft raiment? But his clothing is camel's hair. This is that He adds, “But what went ye out for to see a man clothed in soft raiment?.
This teaches that an austere life and strict preaching ought to shun kings 'courts and the palaces of the rich and luxurious.
In this he is also greater than the other prophets, that to his prophetic privilege is added the reward of the Baptist that he should baptize his Lord.
To add to this great worthiness of John, He brings a passage from Malachi as, in which he is spoken of as an Angel. We must suppose that John is here cal...
John is greater than the other prophets for this reason: the other prophets predicted to John that someone was to come, but John pointed out with his finger that he had indeed come, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” And he reached not only the rank of a prophet but even to that of Baptist, by baptizing his Lord. This heightened his significance. He thereby fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi in which an angel is foretold. John belonged to the order of the angels not by nature but by the importance of his task. It means he was the messenger who would announce the coming of the Lord. .
Having before set down the testimony of the Jews, He then applies that of the prophets; or rather, He puts in the first place the sentence of the Jews, which must have been a very strong demonstration, the witness being borne by his enemies; secondly, the man's life; thirdly, His own judgment; fourthly, the prophet; by all means stopping their mouths.
Then lest they should say, But what if at that time indeed he were such an one, but now is changed? He added also what follows; his garments, his prison, and together with these the prophecy.
Hom xxxvii: Sufficient had been now done for John’s disciples; they returned certified concerning Christ by the wonderful works which they had seen. But it behoved that the multitude also should be corrected, which had conceived many things amiss from the question of John’s disciples, not knowing the purpose of John in sending them. They might say, He who bare such witness to Christ, is now of another mind, and doubts whether this be He. Doth he this because hehath jealousy against Jesus! Has the prison taken away his courage? Or spake he before but empty and untrue words?.
They had not gone out at this time into the desert to see John, for he was not now in the deaert, but in prison; but He speaks of the past time while John was yet in the desert, and the people flocked to him.
And note that making no mention of any other fault, He clears John of fickleness, which the multitude had suspected him of, saying, “A reed shaken bythe wind?”.
Having described his habits of life from his dwel...
But suppose someone might say, “What if John had one opinion earlier but later changed his mind?” This is why Jesus spoke further about his garments, his imprisonment and his role in prophecy. Having said that he is greater than a prophet, Jesus signifies also in what way he is greater. And in what is he greater? In being so very near the One who was to come. For “behold, I send,” he says, “my messenger before your face,” which means in proximity to Messiah. For as with kings, those who ride near the chariot are more illustrious than the rest, just so John also appears in his course near the advent itself. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily
John was called an angel, both because of his angelic and almost immaterial way of life, and because he announced and proclaimed Christ. He prepared Christ’s way by witnessing concerning Him and by baptizing unto repentance, for after repentance comes the forgiveness of sins, which Christ gives. Christ said these things after John’s disciples had left so that He would not appear to be flattering him. The prophecy mentioned is of the prophet Malachi (Malachi 3:1).