This link is a pretty stark picture of the upcoming post about why John the Baptist was in prison. I know I’m a bit behind. Soon, soon, soon we’ll fully get into Matthew chapter 14 because this is the exciting drama part of the narrative. Yet, besides linking to this picture, today note that again, the focus is on Jesus really. John-in-the-womb greets Jesus-in-the-womb. John calling for repentance baptizes Jesus. John being arrested affects where Jesus goes and what he says. John in despair in prison sends word to ask Jesus “hey are you the Messiah or has my whole life been a terrible mistake and waste?” Jesus both reassures and confounds — turning the typical expectations on their head and giving us all more grace than we could have dreamed. But we didn’t know why John was in prison in chapter 11. We do in Chapter 14 — but in a by-the-way manner. Herod the ruler had heard reports of Jesus and thought it was John back from the dead. Which the listener/reader can only go “huh?” We didn’t know John was dead!? Did Herod really think something like re-incarnation worked like that, a spirit sort of zapping into a grown man? There’s something just so strange going on. But it’s a story frame, because now we go back and have the story of how Herod killed John the Baptist and why. And the story frame ends with the profound effect on Jesus — he’s full of sadness. He just wants — needs — some time alone to process this. The Gospel is about Jesus. However it is very interesting to me how John’s events sort of frame or prompt actions and responses by Jesus and on his ministry. John isn’t just some wild strange man in the desert shouting about repentance. His is a very important, intertwined part of the narrative.
The above Link is to a very stark picture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Head of Saint John the Baptist on a Charger
(Netherlandish, Leuven ca. 1451/54–1549)
(I suppose that there’s a way to put pictures, instead of links, into the blog, but I’m such a baby at this for now! Sorry!)