Matthew doesn’t record what Jesus said when He heard the news of John’s death. Only that He withdrew to a solitary place.
We aren’t privy to Jesus’ thoughts. We don’t have the eulogy John’s disciples gave at his burial. Nor do we know John’s final wishes.
We suspect a man who wore camel’s hair and leather wouldn’t care much for a big funeral. And as blunt as John was, we’re fairly certain he wouldn’t want a lot of flowery speeches. But we might safely say:
The angel Gabriel announced his birth! John was a miracle baby, the son of a priest. His mother Elizabeth and Jesus’ mother were cousins. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. He was a prophet. His special mission was to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus! He had a very successful ministry. His name became a household word. Thousands repented at his preaching! He baptized our Lord! Jesus once alleged that nobody who ever lived was greater than John! He was fearless! He confronted religious leaders and called them to repentance. He preached repentance to a king. Yet, he was human. He had his moments of doubt. But he took his questions to Jesus and died in faith and for his faith. John has gone to his well-deserved reward!
Maybe these thoughts were in Jesus’ mind as He reflected on the wonderful and impactful life of His boyhood friend - this Elijah of God!
Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us footprints in the sands of time…