What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ “ (Matt. 11:7-10)

Here Jesus is describing John the Baptist, and he is also clarifying the meaning of "preparing the way."

To understand this statement more clearly we must read Malachi. Also we note that Jesus’ statement paraphrases the text from Malachi 3:1. Malachi is, as stated n Malachi 1, An oracle: The word of the Lord to people through Malachi. We also note here that the word “Malachi” literally means “my messenger.”

Here is the full text of Mal. 3:1 that Jesus paraphrased:
“See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Note that God says clearly that “the messenger of the covenant… will come.” From this we can see that God is saying that He sends His messenger to “prepare the way before Me.” From this we can understand that God utilizes His messenger to prepare us, by showing us how to re-develop our relationship with Him. The words “the way” signify a path or road. “Before Me” would indicate that the path or road would leading to God. Thus we can clearly see that God is saying that He has set up a system where we can return to God by following the teachings of His messenger.

Does this statement by God mean there is only one messenger of His covenant? Certainly not. Moses in fact, was a messenger of the covenant. David was a messenger. Isaac was a messenger. Abraham was a messenger. Jeremiah was. Malachi is being a messenger as well. These messengers all came for those who sought out God. In other words, for those who desire to return to God, God sends His messenger to them.

These points are confirmed by God clearly in Mal. 2:7:
“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty.”

And what is this covenant? The ecclesiastical Christian teachers say that the covenant was some kind of pact between Abraham and God pertaining to the coming of Jesus - that God was beholden to Abraham to deliver Jesus to save the Jews. Meanwhile, ecclesiastical Jewish teachers say that the covenant was a promise that the Jews would own the "promised land" of Israel.

These are both preposterous conclusions - ones drawn out of political means by those wanting to attract parishioners and/or want to feel that they are somehow special (chosen) because of the family they were born in. God does not care what race or nationality our bodies have. These are ridiculous interpretations. Is God so small-minded?

The ‘covenant’ is God's love for us, and His mercy. God will take back anyone who sincerely chooses to return to Him. God promises us that if we take a few steps toward Him - He will take many more towards us. God promises that if we rely upon Him, we will have nothing to fear. He promises us that we can depend upon Him for protection. If we sincerely want to re-develop our loving service relationship with Him, he will guide us back home to Him. This is His promise. This is His covenant to every living being.

And part of this covenant is that anyone seriously wanting to return to Him is guided to one of His representatives for guidance. This is what God means by: "See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me."

This understanding is also confirmed by the clear statement in Mal. 4:2:
“But for you who revere my Name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.”

This is a clear statement that while God was disappointed in many of the peoples of Israel who disobeyed (and offended) His previous messengers such as Moses, Joshua, Abraham and so on, anyone who gives reverence to God’s name will be saved. They don't have to wait in some kind of 'waiting room' for the coming of Jesus, nor do people today have to wait for a second coming. To worship God and revere His Names can be done right now, and our reward for that will be immediate. Certainly God sends, in every age, those who have developed a loving relationship with Him to teach by both their words and example the true path of returning to Him. God's representatives execute this 'covenant' between God and His children because they are God's loving servants.

Those who interpret Jesus' above statement to mean that John's purpose was to prophesize about Jesus simply do not understand the real 'covenant' being discussed. So they distort the teachings of Jesus to suit their ecclesiastical positions within the hierarchy of their sects and those whom they fool. They teach a false “surrender” to Jesus, and that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross will magically save people: They teach that all they need to do is say, "I surrender to Jesus" and they are saved. This is hucksterism. This is cheating.

There is no magic bullet back to God by way of someone else's suffering. We each have to approach God personally within our hearts, apologize for offending Him, and humbly ask Him to take us back. We each need to do the work of correcting our selfishness, and learn to give our life and love to God. Jesus' suffering was not some kind of automatic facility: It was an act that shows us the kind of devotion and surrender we need to make to God to return home to Him. We need to be prepared to give God everything - even our lives, as Jesus had done.

How much clearer could this be? Mal. 2:7 clarifies that God indeed has had many messengers. As Jesus also taught his disciples and then asked them to teach others, anyone who sincerely receives and applies the knowledge from God’s messenger and re-establishes their relationship of loving service with God, may become empowered by God to become one of His messengers.

From Jesus’ paraphrasing of the Mal. 3:1, we can see that Jesus is referring to the same “way” that God was referring to, but this “way” is “before you” rather than “before Me” as is stated in Mal. 3:1. This confirms the meaning of God’s statement that the “way” is the path back to our relationship with God. Because Jesus was speaking to the people, the “before you” refers to the fact that John the Baptist’s teachings were teaching people to re-develop their relationship with God so that they could return to God.

With these statements, we can know that Jesus loved his teacher, John the Baptist, and devoted his life to carrying on the same teachings that John the Baptist taught. For this reason, Jesus queried John’s disciples’ motives, pointing out that they too had journeyed all the way out in the desert to hear the wisdom of John the Baptist. They did not go all the way out there to see a finely dressed man, or to look at the beauty of the reeds in the lake swaying in the wind. They went to hear from God's messenger. They went to hear from someone who delivers the message of God: God’s covenant. His promise to each of us that if we sincerely desire to return to Him and learn to love Him and serve Him, He will guide us back to Him, and He will give us full protection. Now that is a covenant.

This article is republished from The Real Teachings of Jesus.