John the Baptizer and Elijah
Matthew introduces John as a known person: “Baptizer” (also Josephus). Famous as prophet and martyr killed by Herod Antipas. He is the renewal of prophecy cut short by corrupt power.
Mt illuminates his role by two scripture references. Isaiah 40: Wilderness, Exodus, hope for end of exile, renewal. Preparation for God. This is what the Gospel is about. Nothing less.
Also the sign of Elijah that ends Malachi. The call for renewal before God’s Judgment.
The surprising way that God comes. “God with us” as the exiled son. God as human Messiah.