Lent and Repentence and Preparation
|"A voice of one calling in the desert, |
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.' " ...
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew3:3-8)
- He danced in the womb when pregnant Mary came to visit.
- He was set apart from childhood to a hermit-like priestly order where he spent his time studying the law, fasting and leading a self-denying lifestyle.
- He came from the desert wearing sackcloth and eating locusts as a protest against materialism
- He came preaching repentance, justice and change
- He denounced evil - especially among influential and powerful people
- He announced the coming Messiah
- He baptised Jesus (although he felt it should be the other way round).
- But he was confused when he landed up in prison and Jesus' ministry wasn't that of a conquering Messiah
A quick glance at John could lead one to conclude that he represented to "old way" that required one to deny yourself, obey the law and live an austere lifestyle to please God. This "old way" or "old covenant" could also be interpreted as a "works based" salvation and one might argue that John was everything that Jesus was not.
But John isn't a contrast or foil for Jesus. He is Jesus' forerunner.
Jesus says this about John: "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist"(Mt.11:11)
How can this be? John seems to represent the old covenant.
So why does Jesus hold him in such high regard?
I think it was because John was Hungry. Hungry for God, Hungry for Holiness, Hungry for Righteousness, Hungry for Justice, Hungry for change, Hungry for Service, Hungry for God's Messiah.
When one is as hungry and passionate as John was, it points beyond the desire to pull oneself up by one's bootlaces. It points towards the Spirit's spark in our souls. This is the image of God in us. John had this in bucket-fulls! And Jesus loved him for it.
Lent thought for today:During Lent we deal with sin and pursue justice in our lives, not to save ourselves or prove ourselves, but because we are getting hungry. How hungry are you?