John 1:19-37….Big Bad John (read at least twice)
If we could sit down for an hour with any three people from the Bible (not including Jesus), who would be on the list? And more importantly, why? My three would include Joseph, the husband of Mary (What ever happened to you?). Also Simeon from Luke 2:25-35 (When Judaism was so dry and lifeless, how did you go so deep with God? What was it like to hold a baby Who was God?). And finally the apostle John (What was it like to lay with your head on Jesus’ chest putting yourself only a few inches from His face?). How about your two or three and, especially, why? Talk to me below.
But on our lists, would John the Baptist make the cut? Probably not and we wouldn’t have to explain much to anyone knowing him from the Bible. Almost nobody in the Bible seems less like the ordinary Christian than John, We’re tricycles and he’s a NASCAR racer. But don’t overlook this guy as he has some things to teach us.
Verses 19-24. John knew who he was. John was what God made him and nothing else. Others had their ideas of what he could and should and might be. We will encounter people who will have their ideas about us. And like with John, many of those people will be wrong. It come down to calling. Where has God left His fingerprints on our heart? What fires has He lit in our belly? What hungers has He stirred with us? Run hard after those things. John could have “worked” it. He was the hot thing; he was “trending”. Elijah? There’s a brand that could get inside our head if we’d let it. John said, “I’m just a voice. It’s not even important that you remember my name.” How true of all of us who name Jesus. It is only important as others see us, that they become drawn to and remember Christ’s name.
When we know who God crafts us to be, we also become clear about whom we’re not. “I am not the Christ”. Who is? Who walked on water, the “Geezer” or Jesus? Who fed five thousand people with loaves and fish, the “Geezer” or Jesus? Who cast out demons, healed lepers and raised the dead, the “Geezer” or Jesus? Who was raised from the dead and someday will rule all of heaven and earth, the “Geezer” or Jesus? Tough calls, I admit, and I do get a little fuzzy some days as to who God is in my life. I bet I’m not alone. But, John? Never. The man was never fogged in for a second. “I am not the Christ.” Not only am I not fit to be God in my life, I’m nobody else’s Messiah either.
Monuments and legacies here are overrated. What’s lived of Jesus will outrun space and time. They came out in droves to be baptized by John. He said it was no big thing, that the One coming would do something much deeper, more profound than anything that getting wet could do. Actually, the first Christians who may have had John’s baptism would get another one in Jesus’ name with a different and fuller understanding. Baptisms can be notches on our pastoral guns. “How many have you baptized this year?” No big deal for John.
His ego and esteem didn’t feed off attention or needs of other, others who trusted him. To follow John meant you were hardcore after God. Hanging with John wasn’t just running with the big dogs, you were foot racing with cheetahs. John wasn’t propped up by how many followers he had, “tweets” or hits he was getting, how many Facebook friends he was racking up or contacts made, He didn’t need to cling to his people. He wasn’t paranoid about losing them.
Our walks with Jesus run in seasons and no one knows how many there will be or how long each one will last. Our usefulness in God’s hand can and will change shapes and even the most faithful will be laid aside at times. The only thing that matters is that people who Christ touches with our lives continue to run hard and faithfully even if they must now take their cues from someone else. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (verses 29 and 36) Notice the exclamation point. John thought the Lamb to be an astounding reality. Jesus Christ still is. Isn’t He?
“I myself have seen, and testified that this is the Son of God.” Need a mission or life statement? Here it is. Wherever God plants us in Jesus’ name (education, politics, the arts, a factory assembly line, in retail, on campus, etc.), we are there to reflect through Holy Spirit empowered excellence in what we do, through holiness and integrity of character and through love that is unexplainable except by the smile of Jesus that He is risen. In Him is life and that life is the light of men. We will only find and reflect life to the degree that we become witness to what we have seen.
Would John at least squeeze into number three of our list now? He came in at number one on someone’s list even though you’ll never guess who and I can’t explain why. Check out Mark 6:20. Herod Antipas was the official who imprisoned John and beheaded him at the sinful whims of his wife after John publicly rebuked them as to the immorality of their marriage. This same Herod would conspire with Pontius Pilate to insure Jesus’ death. All the Herods were evil (possibly psychopathic), power mad and paranoid about it. Murder seemed to be their strategy of first choice for almost everything. Verse 20 says “…for Herod was afraid of John, knowing he was a righteous and holy man..”. And in almost the same breath, “And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.” WHAT?!?! Can someone help me with the math here? Did John soften it up or tell jokes? Not likely. He could only be what God made him. Same with us. And it might really weird us out to know who might be paying attention.
Tell me your list. Who from the Bible would you like to spend an hour with (excluding Jesus)? What I’m really interested in is “why?”.
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Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant at the rear as you leave. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.