JOHN THE BAPTIST
I have always found John the Baptist so intriguing- with his camel hair clothing and his diet of locusts and wild honey! He seems like quite the character. John lived at the same time as Jesus, and his driving purpose was in calling people to repent- because “the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:12). I learned an interesting insight about John as a prophet at the Bible Study Tools website:
Although his formative years were lived in obscurity in the desert, his public ministry ended nearly four hundred years of prophetic silence. John was that voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the coming Messiah. In this sense his message and ministry marked the culmination of the law and the prophets, but heralded the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. So John was truly a transitional figure, forming the link between the Old and New Testaments. He spans the ages with one foot firmly planted in the Old Testament and the other squarely placed in the New.¹
Light the Prophecy Candle.
Mark 1:4-8 (NRSV)
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
As we think of the Promises of Hope declared by the prophets, today we are reminded that even though we are not worthy, John freely admits that he is not worthy, either. He could even come across as wild, abrasive and demanding; yet Jesus has great things to say about John. Jesus tells the people that John is great, even more than a prophet. Then Jesus goes on to say that the “least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (see Matthew 11:9-11). Our hope is in knowing we are all beloved; we are all equally dear and capable children of God, called to be God’s messengers, from the least to the greatest.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for your humble and dedicated messengers such as John, Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah. Thank you for claiming us as your beloved children who are capable of doing great things with your help. Give us the passion and perseverance of the prophets, to readily share your love- your message of hope. Amen.