A wild looking man, who came to be known as ‘John the Baptist’ , was found in the Judean wilderness, (an extremely dangerous, hot and arid desolate wasteland), preaching a message of repentance. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John was the consummate evangelist and follower of Jesus.
John wore a garment made of camel’s hair. His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey, preaching a message, which at that time would have been considered both odd and unheard of. People began to think that perhaps this man was the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet.
People from all over Jerusalem, Judea and the region around the Jordan and were coming to John, questioning him, asking, “Then what are we to do?” And he would answer and say to them, “The one who has two tunics is to share with the one who has none; and the one who has food is to do likewise.”
Now even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what are we to do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
And soldiers also were questioning him, saying, “What are we to do, we as well?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone, nor harass anyone, and be content with your wages.”
Now while the people were in a state of expectation, and they all were thinking carefully in their hearts about John, whether he himself perhaps was the Christ. John responded with a hard message to them, saying, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the straps of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John’s reputation, his activities and the crowds drew the attention of the Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees, whom John challenged, calling them ‘offspring of vipers’ and daring them, asking, ‘who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’. John also challenged their authority, saying, “Produce fruit consistent with repentance; and do not assume that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you that God is able, from these stones, to raise up children for Abraham. And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire.“
John the Baptist’s courage and confrontational style earned him the reward of being beheaded by King Herod Antipas around A D 28. Not easy!
There was nothing easy here. Nothing that would seem even remotely pleasant to an individual in our 21st century postmodern church, although this was the early pattern for the Church.
Why were so many coming to John in a desert wilderness and to the Jordan River to be baptized? It was not easy! But so few come to be baptized in our comfortable and easy postmodern churches today?
The true seeker of God, the one who wants to be changed and saved; those who want to follow Him and to be His disciple, knows that Jesus and the Gospel of Christ changes people and circumstances – and they know It Ain’t Easy – but it is worth it!
Your Brother and Friend,
PS: PLEASE stay with me! This is going to get ‘really good’. Wait until you see what is coming! Honestly, I hope this changes all of our minds about how we approach God and our response to Him! I pray this leads us on the Adventure He always promises!!
COMING, NEXT: THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS – IT AIN’T EASY.
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