Good News for the Day, January 2, 2018
Christmas Weekday (205)
The man John was sent from God. He came to publish truth, to let the Light be known publicly–so that everybody might come to faith through him. He was not himself the Light, but came to let the Light be known publicly. Here is what John had to say: When some Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and other clergy to him to ask, “Who are you?” John told them plainly; he did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” So, they did ask him then, “What are you then? Are you an Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet who is supposed to come?” He answered that: “No!” Finally, they said to him, “Who are you—so we can give some answer to the people who have sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am just the voice of someone yelling out loud in the desert—fix the roadway for the One Who Really Counts,'”—as Isaiah the prophet put it.” Some higher-ranking religious leaders were sent as well. They asked him, “Why is it you baptize if you are not the Messiah, an Elijah, or the coming Prophet?” John answered, “With water I am baptizing; someone among you—and you don’t know him yet—someone coming along after me—that one—I am not worthy to untie his sandal laces.” This encounter took place in a place called Bethany—across the Jordan—where John was baptizing. (John 1)
We ask questions all the time. Maybe just in your head, “Who IS this idiot?” or “Who do you think you are?” (In their languages, “sacred” meant “different,” as in “extraordinary, not-usual, unexpected, out of the box, etc.” The culture saw in John the Baptist someone “different,”—possibly dangerous to the status quo.)
He was calling for change—the meaning of “repentance.” The Jerusalem authorities wanted to know whether his “difference” was dangerous to them—whether politically, militarily, religiously, or culturally. People who came to John felt curious, receptive. He was offering something new—this prophet credible in his way of life.
…and how do you see John? Do you see that the change which is repentance is the start to what you need to keep doing—a fresh start? Do you ask: “If I wake up, acknowledge uncomfortable truth about me, admit to my need for change—what do I do next?” The Good News John says is to look outward—see others, serve them, maybe not tying shoelaces, but cutting toenails, stepping aside, listening—little things. It is a great, different grace to do them for the new year, John tells you and me.