John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ … So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:27-30
Do you ever get that awkward feeling when you try to engage in a conversation with someone who isn’t like you, or doesn’t quite fit your mold for friendship? Me too! Sometimes when I have that experience, I am reminded of John the Baptist in the New Testament.
Of all the characters in the Bible, I find John the Baptist the most intriguing, interesting, and STRANGE! Who was this man who lived in the wilderness, ate bugs, and dressed in animal skins? Was he believable? Did he know how incredibly strange he looked and sounded? And if he did know, did it matter to him at all? When I looked beyond his appearance, I discovered a few facts about John the Baptist.
John was the cousin of Jesus’ earthly family. He was Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son. He was a few months older than Jesus, if you recall the passage in the Bible that speaks of Elizabeth and Mary’s meeting while they were pregnant (Luke 1: 36-42). John was compared to Elijah, who was an Old Testament prophet of God telling of the judgement on the nation of Israel (Isaiah 40:3 and Matthew 3:1-3).
John has several scenes in scripture that give us a glimpse into the importance of his mission. Although he primarily lived and preached in the desert, people flocked to him to hear him speak of the coming of Jesus Christ, and his plea for them to repent and be baptized to show their change of heart. He confronted the Jewish elite leaders with words of warning and condemnation (Matthew 3:7-9). But perhaps the most amazing thing John the Baptist did was recognize that the throngs of people who followed him must be pointed to Jesus, the one of whom John preached (John 3:30).
What a strange, yet compelling man. I often wonder if I would have received John’s words about Jesus Christ had I lived in that time. If I’m honest, I would have to say probably not unless the Holy Spirit prompted me. It makes me wonder how many good things from God I have overlooked because they didn’t fit my mold for what is acceptable or pleasing.
So here are my answers about John the Baptist: Who was this man who lived in the wilderness, ate bugs, and dressed in animal skins? He was the forerunner to Jesus Christ who had been prophesied in the Old Testament and looked and lived exactly the way God intended. Was he believable? He absolutely was, as evidenced in the New Testament that throngs of people followed him. Did he know how incredibly strange he looked and sounded? Yes he did, and it did not matter to him at all. He knew his mission and he stayed focused on it.
My prayer today is that I look beyond my expectations and look for the experiences that God has planned for me. What better way to be surprised by God?
About the Writer:
Pam Brewer is Director of Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.