Today we have a snapshot of John the Baptist. Just several short verses ago we learned how an angel brought the Lord’s message to his aging parents, telling them their son would prepare the people for the coming Messiah. We see that prophecy, as well as Isaiah’s words from the Old Testament, coming alive before our eyes.
John is quite a character. We are told he was living in the wilderness. I suppose that elicits a certain image in your mind, doesn’t it? He would have been very resourceful to maintain that lifestyle. He listened to God’s call on his life and gave it his all.
From the sounds of it, people were flocking to him, hungry to know what it was they could do. John was always responsive, and I’m sure sometimes told them things they didn’t want to hear. He was bold and on a mission.
Do we have that kind of boldness in our faith today? What kinds of sacrifices are we making on account of others?
The people were already expecting their Messiah. They envisioned a strong leader that could rescue them from the control of the Roman rule. They were tired of being oppressed. Now, John was telling them their Messiah was coming soon. The anticipation was at an all time high. What do you think they thought when John said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” What about you, what do you think about that?
John’s baptism was with water, as a way of cleansing away one’s sins after they repented. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, actually first given at Pentecost (Acts 2), was an anointing of God’s spirit and power . It also symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing God’s judgment on those who do not repent.
We also learn that John was jailed for being a little outspoken about Herod, among other things. This Herod Antipas was the son of King Herod who was ruling over Galilee at the time Jesus and John were born.
So the pictures we have of John include: an adventurer living in the wilderness, an obedient child of God listening when God called him into action, a preacher bringing people to repentance, a baptizer, and the one chosen to prepare hearts for Jesus. Can you see ourself in any of these personas?
How is God going to use you today?
Let’s pray. Lord I come to you with joy and expectation for what you are about to do. You have promised Jesus will return, and I wait with expectation and hope that I will be able to witness this in my lifetime. May I stay focused on your goodness and provision so my mouth stays open to tell others about you. Give me the resources to help the poor around me in your name. I look forward to that day when I can bless our community with the fruits of our labor, all that you have provided. May I have the boldness of John and not back down when opposition comes. Thank you for my life and the gifts you have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen