Weaving together the threads that make up my passion for the written word…as an author, editor, and follower of The Word.
I think I would have liked John—he seems a bit eccentric with his camel hair clothing, and his affinity for locusts and wild honey. He was a straight talker who pulled no punches, and there was no fooling him with insincerity. He had an uncanny ability to see right through it. People were drawn to him, following him into the desert just to hear him preach. Reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets, he was on fire for God even before the gift of the Holy Spirit came to us at Pentecost, and he was blessed with a clarity of vision that no one else had. He was not there to entertain, and he didn’t care if his words offended someone. His mission was to speak the truth; to make sure the people knew that their long awaited King was on His way, and that it was time to clean up in preparation of his arrival. They needed to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus’ message, because their eternal lives depended on it.
John called on people to confess their sins and baptized them “with the water of repentance” as an outward sin of what was going on internally…a sign not that they were suddenly clean, but that they were ready to turn away from sin, and toward God.
I don’t know why the Pharisees and Sadducees came to watch John. Maybe it was only out of curiosity, or to argue with him, or discredit him. Maybe they came as spies for the Jewish leaders…to make sure he wasn’t doing anything that would affect their power. The Bible doesn’t say why they came, but it does record John’s reaction to their presence. He called them a “brood of vipers” and warned them to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Until now, they had clung to the privilege of their ancestry, trying to buy favor with God by keeping the law, and by rituals and sacrifices…some true to God’s original commands, some so over-interpreted and distorted that the spirit of them had been completely lost. John wanted them to step back and look at what kind of fruit they were producing. Was it really for God’s glory, or theirs?
John’s message was a word of warning to the children of Abraham, and a word of hope for everyone else. The privilege of ancestry alone would no longer be enough, and neither would simply following the letter of the law. With the coming of Jesus, everything was about to change.
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