Pyeong Hwa Gyeong: Episode 107
Pyeong Hwa Gyeong: A Selection of True Parents’ Speeches
Book 3: The Mission of Religion in Achieving God’s Ideal
Speech 2: The New Future of Christianity, pg 368-371
The mistake of John the Baptist
The Jewish people could seize Jesus by virtue of their understanding of the Old Testament, yet what about John the Baptist? When you read Matthew 11:2 and following, you find the story of how, when John the Baptist was imprisoned, and about to die for having spoken about the love affairs of Herodias, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?” Did John the Baptist, then, believe Jesus or not? How could he, with the same mouth that had once declared at the river Jordan before a large crowd, “He is the Lamb of God who bears the sins of the world,” ask the question, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” And by proxy!
Think about how dumbfounded Jesus must have been when he heard these words, for it was at a time when no one in the world acknowledged him and the entire nation was opposing him. And here was John the Baptist, whom Jesus had looked upon as his last ray of hope and only lifeline, asking him at the last moment, “Are you the Messiah or not?” That was why he pointed out in Matthew 11:6, “And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” In the next verse, Matthew 11:7, Jesus criticized what John the Baptist had said and done when he had witnessed to Jesus in front of a crowd. That is why Jesus denounced him with the words, “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.” And in verse 11, he said, “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.” How could he say such contradictory things about John? The prophets who have passed on into the next world were all born of women, for they surely were not born from rocks, were they? They were all born of women, and John the Baptist was also born of woman, and so he must be great even in the next world. Why, then, would he become the least of them?
It is because the prophets who came and passed on into the next world were sent to earth to testify to the Messiah from a historical distance, yet John the Baptist was sent as the prophet whose mission was to testify directly to the Messiah. Since he was the one who was to see the Messiah with his own eyes and testify to him, his mission was the greatest.
Why then did Jesus say that the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than he? Even the least prophet who had gone to the spirit world knew Jesus Christ was the Messiah and attended him as such. On the other hand, John the Baptist, who would have become great by testifying to Jesus, was unable to attend him when he was supposed to attend him, and so he could be only in the bottommost position. You need to know that this is the content upon which Jesus based his words.
Let us look up Matthew 11:12 to see if this is, in fact, true. It says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” This refers to the fact that a struggle could have broken out between Jesus and John the Baptist to occupy the kingdom of heaven. What this signifies is that John the Baptist did not devote his energies to fulfilling his mission. We must now find out what would have happened if he had devoted his energies properly. If he had done so, John the Baptist would have become Jesus’ first disciple.
If John the Baptist had become the first disciple, wouldn’t his disciples have joined the twelve disciples, wouldn’t John the Baptist’s multitude of followers have been included in the ranks of the seventy disciples and 120 followers, and wouldn’t the ruling class of the entire Jewish nation have joined the group following Jesus? Was John the Baptist sent to oppose Jesus? Then let us look into the matter of how great a man John the Baptist was. Through the words of Jesus and the Bible, let us find out what a special man he was, sent down with God’s official approval.
In Matthew 11:13, Jesus declared, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John,” signifying that John came as the fruit that culminates the Old Testament. If John the Baptist had become one with Jesus, the people who believed in the Old Testament were bound to follow in his footsteps and become one with Jesus. If such a thing had come to pass, who could have seized and killed Jesus? The Messiah, the prince of God, came to utilize the foundation that was laid down. Would he have had to bring together lowly fishermen, prostitutes, and tax collectors and feed them to become their master and teacher?
Let us once again look clearly into the matter of whether John did indeed follow Jesus or not. If you read the Gospel of John 3:26 and following, you will find that the disciples of John the Baptist reported to John about Jesus, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John the Baptist answered, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” Christian tradition interprets this to mean that since John the Baptist was a great prophet, he humbled himself before Jesus in this manner and said that he, John, would decrease.
If one has suffered hardships for three years to receive the Messiah and then has finally met the Messiah he has been longing to meet and has testified to him, he needs to be ready to die for the Messiah if the time comes for that. What this means is that if John the Baptist had walked the same path as Jesus by his side, if the Messiah increased, he too would increase, and if the Messiah decreased, he too would decrease. Therefore, when he said that they had to go separate ways, he plainly stated the decisive truth that he would not follow Jesus. Based on this, we realize our ignorance until now that the Crucifixion of Jesus was caused first by the wrong interpretation of the Old Testament, and second, by John the Baptist.