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Who is This John Character Anyway?

The text for this second week of Advent is Matthew 3: 1-12.  This passages introduces us to John the Baptist.  He is clearly one wild and crazy guy.  He is running around wearing clothing of camel’s hair and eating a diet of locusts and wild honey.  He is proclaiming the coming of the Messiah and baptizing people in the river Jordan.  He is the original guy on the street corner holding a sign saying, “repent, the end is near”.

John is also not shy about calling out those he sees as hypocrites as he does with the Pharisees and Sadducees, who are showing up to be baptized.  He is warning these folks to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Verse 8).  That is, he is claiming that if you truly believe your life will change dramatically.  It is not enough to say that Abraham is your ancestor (that you are chosen as Jews), you must respond to God’s gifts in a real way.  No cheap grace for this man!

Pointing to the True One

John is quick to point the spotlight away from himself and turn it to Jesus.  There is a greater one coming, and His message is even more radical and your relationship with Him is even more important.  This coming savior will not baptize with water, but with fire (Holy Spirit).  This is the one in whom God has placed His trust and power to save us all.  It is stern language John offers.  He pictures a Jesus gathering the wheat into the granary and throwing the chaff into the fire.  This need not worry us, as we belong to Christ.  Our salvation is assured by our faith.  As for others, that is God’s business, and it is best to leave God’s business to God.

What is most important is the utter radicality of John’s message on behalf of the most radical preacher that the world will ever see.  The true one will come preaching a message of eternal love, hope and redemption simply by trusting in Him as God’s son. 

This week’s preparation is to remember just how radical God’s love for His people is and how the faith that Jesus gives us will change us.  That is as John says we will not presume that we are heirs of Abraham, as if that is enough.  No we will accept the love and sacrifice of God’s only Son as our sure path to an eternal relationship with the Father.  That is we will simply believe, then obey.

Praise Be to God

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