John the expecter.

(Part one of a three-part reflection from John 1:29-34.)

May I tell you about John the Baptist?

I know that you may know all about him, but I’d like to review.

John lived six months before Jesus. More accurately, he was born about six months before Jesus. Their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, were relatives.

Both of their births were miracles. John’s because Elizabeth was old, well past the time that anyone would expect her to be expecting. Jesus’s because, well, because he was Jesus.

Both of the pregnancies were announced by angels. You know the current partying around baby announcements, with blue or pink smoke or cupcake fillings or t-shirts? John and Jesus were predicted by angels. Take that Pinterest.

And their roles were predicted, too. John was going to “prepare the way for the Lord,” to help people get ready for the person who would save Israel, to point toward the Messiah. Jesus was going to be the messiah. The Christ. The one who would be the King.

John was called to get people ready for Jesus. The older to point toward the younger.

Jesus and John grew up separately.  John in the hill country, and then the wilderness. Jesus close to Jerusalem, then in Egypt, and then way up north in Galilee.

IMG_1458.JPGJohn eventually started preaching. He told people that the Holy one was coming. He told them that they needed to get their lives cleaned up before he came. Repent, he said. Turn your life around. The kingdom of God is close.

Some people laughed or argued. But some people knew that they were messed up, that the way they lived wasn’t what God wanted. So they wanted to change. John told them that one way to show that they were serious was to walk through water, to go down into the river and to come back out. It was called baptism. And John was called the Baptist.

After they were baptized, he told them how to live. Honestly, justly, compassionately. To live in a way that was consistent with their commitment.

But the whole time John was teaching and preaching and washing, he was watching.  Because he knew that the kingdom of God was close.

  • Close in time – soon – so that there was no time to waste.
  • Close in geography – nearby – so that he would see the king.

John had a purpose, a calling, a mission, a job. His whole life was about getting people ready for the kingdom of God. That sense of expectation was so strong that he didn’t waste his time on anything else.

His calling still has openings.

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