If you’ve spent any time in church, you’ve probably heard something about him. A guy living in the wilderness eating locusts, preaching, and baptizing people.
John the Baptist. His ministry, yes his very existence, was foretold by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). He was born to be “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”. We know he lived a spartan life, no home, no wife or children, no worldly possessions. We know he was beheaded by the order of King Herod the tetrarch.
We know he was a cousin to Jesus. There’s no record of it but we can imagine the two knew each other as boys. Maybe they played together. What would they have talked about, these two young lads whose every step was no doubt directed and ordained by God? They surely would have known what they themselves would do. And what each other would do.
I am a huge fan of the movie Jesus Of Nazareth. Have watched it countless times as I am doing again this week. It never ceases to amaze and thrill me how God continues to reveal things to me. Passages of Scripture that I’ve read numerous times will suddenly one day hold new and deeper meaning. Now I’m certainly not saying this particular instance is a new revelation to me from God, but much in the same way I’ve seen this section of this movie countless times and read it in Scripture numerous times, and the thought has never once occurred to me.
It’s not impossible to think John and Jesus knew each other fairly well. They no doubt knew their own as well as each other’s, how to put this… “place” in the Kingdom of God. John knew Jesus is the Christ. Jesus knew John was His messenger. The biggest difference being of course that John was a mortal man, and Jesus is One with the Creator of all.
So as I watch the re-enactment of Jesus being baptized by John it occurs to me. John knew who Jesus was. He knew the Son of God was coming to him to be baptized. He heard the “voice” of God proclaiming His parental pride in Jesus. What exactly does a mortal man do or think after this experience. Clearly he did not get an over exaggerated sense of self worth. But how did this affect him? Did he have one of those “whoa” moments? Did he ever really stop for even a moment and ponder the significance of what he was chosen to be a part of? Did he think anything like “wow, that was God… I just heard God… that was His Son… “.
Today society gets so taken by the so called stars of this world. We clamor for a glimpse at the coffin carrying a really sad man who in actuality and in spite of what any investigation may conclude, died from his own self absorbed induced insanity. Yet, there was John, a man called and destined by God to have close and personal contact with His Son, and he goes off into the desert to continue his life. To me, THAT is remarkable.
In my own search for a deeper faith and understanding, I wonder what it’s like to know your purpose as John did. To know directly from your Creator what it is He designed you to do. To hear His voice, as John did. How sweet it must sound. How satisfying. How comforting.