Since my blogging all started with my curiosity and fascination with John the Baptist, I am glad that John has popped backed up in my accidental mini-study of Luke — once again the story of John the Baptist sending his disciples to Jesus to say “are you the one or not”. Since Jesus had cured people, given sight to the blind, raised the dead (for example the widow’s son just prior to this), given the poor good news that they will have justice and mercy, he tells the messengers to tell John what they have seen and heard. I love that Jesus then turns to the crowd — the crowd? since when was there a crowd? And crowds usually signify something “amazing” but misunderstood. This time it is pretty direct and clear:
“When you went out to the wilderness to be baptized by John, did you see a shaking reed, something going along to get along?”
Surely the crowd laughed and shouted no.
“When you went out to the wilderness to be baptized by John, did you see someone rich, lording it over us, having an abundance of luxury?”
Again, surely the crowd laughed and shouted no.
The third time, like a fairy tale, “When you went out to the wilderness to be baptized by John, you went to see a prophet, right?”
This time the crowd shouts yes.
But John the Baptist is more than just-a-prophet. He’s the messenger from God, preparing us for Jesus.
And I’ve been thinking about this, about how much easier it would be to just have John: there would be right. There would be wrong. There would be repentance. There would be a call for justice.
But John himself won’t let us let things be that simple. He isn’t the endpoint — and we’re lucky he isn’t. He is the one pointing to Jesus, who has a far more complex message in my opinion because love is harder. Love all the way down. Love for everyone. Whew!
Love for the glory of God!