Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11)

At the height of His earthly ministry, Lord Jesus Christ was approached by two disciples of John the Baptist while the Saint John was in prison. Perhaps troubled by his own imprisonment, he wanted affirmation that Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Coming One Jesus pointed to His works and spoke of the blessedness of those not offended because of Him (Matthew 11:11)

Lord Jesus then tell the multitudes about John the Baptist who was not some easily shaken reed or man in soft clothing, but a prophet Indeed, he was the prophet foretold by Isaiah and Malachi. (Matthew 11:7-10, Isaiah  40:3, Malachi 3:1; 4:5)

But then Lord Jesus told them about no one had been greater than John the Baptist. “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” After the messengers left, the Lord said to the people who were with him. (Matthew 11:11)

An opportune day came when Herod, on his birthday, gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced and pleased Herod. He promised her anything she might ask for, even as much as half of his kingdom. She went to her mother and asked her, “What shall I ask?” Her mother said, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” When Herod heard this, he was exceedingly sorry. But because of his promise and those who were sitting with him, he did not want to refuse her request. He therefore commanded his servants to cut off the head of Saint John and they gave it to the damsel and the damsel gave it to her mother. There was great consternation that day, and their joy soon turned into sorrow. (Mark 6:20-28)

It was said that when the holy head of Saint John was beheaded, it flew up off their hands into the air, and it cried out saying, “It is not right for you to take your brother’s wife.” As of the holy body, the disciples of Saint John took it and laid it in a grave until the days of Pope Athanasius, when God willed to uncover his body. The Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church dedicated September 11 to celebrate the martyrdom of this great prophet and martyr, Saint John the Baptist. (Matthew 14:4)

The prophet Malachi spoke of the coming and coming of Saint John: “Behold, I send you Elijah the Tishbite before the coming of the great and dreadful day of God.” … He returns the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. (Malachi 3: 1-8)

This is what the angel Saint Gabriel announced when he announced the birth of Saint John to his father Zechariah in the temple. “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the mind of the unbelievers to the knowledge of the righteous.” (Luke 1: 3)

As a result, the people expected Elijah to come before the Messiah. For example, the Lord said to His disciples, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah is coming first?” They asked. (Matthew 5: 1, Mark 3: 3)

May His blessings be with us all; Amen! 

 Source: Synaxarium (Book of Saints), on September 14 and Introduction to The Gospel of Matthew