Thursday, May 24, 2012
Long Hair, Strange Clothes, Odd Food
John the Baptist is spoken of by all four of the Gospel writers. It was the Father's plan for him to be born and to preach before Jesus was born and preached. He came before, just as Isaiah said he would (Isaiah 40). His job was to call Israel to repentance - to change their minds. That is what repentacne is, a changing fo mind and direction. Isaiah 40 and all the Gospel writers imagine John's ministry as the building of a smooth highway. This freeway needs to be straight, smooth and flat. The problem is, the country (hearts) in which this road is build is full of valleys, hills, rough and rugged places (sins). In order for the road to end up smooth the valleys have to be filled in (raised up) the mountains have to be bulldozed (brought low) and the rough and rugged places smoothed out. The reason for needing a smooth road is that the King was coming. In order for him to get from where he was to you the encumbrances have to be removed. Their removal comes through repentance so John preached repentance. Once the King arrives on the newly built highway (an honest, open and penitent heart)the Gospel writers report that Jesus "Will baptize in the Holy Spirit." John "the baptist," John the baptizer was one odd fellow. He lived in the desert, wore clothes which looked strange to everyone, ate odd food, never shaved or drank beer. AND while he was out there looking and being out of place the crowds came and he told them they had to change, repent. This "change" this new "Spirit" that was to come was as out of place for them as John was. I am wondering if this strange fellow some how is a word from God himself. I mean what he looked like, where he lived and what he ate. Perhaps a glance at him was supposed to spark imagination and wonder. Then when he opened his mouth and called for change...he looked like change...no surprise to hear an odd thing come out of the mouth of an odd man...it fit right in. Something has to be different if Jesus' Spirit is to live in us. We cannot keep our mind set on where it was set before. Philosophies have to change. Ideas, perspective and points of view have to now become as strange to us as camel hair. And here lies the rub. How we presently live, if we do not know Jesus, ideas we hold and things we practice are the hills, valleys and rough places between Jesus and us. It is strange at first, but if repentance is possible the road will smooth out and the blessing of the Spirit of God will arrive.