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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Sunday, 29 May 2022

 Exploring Matthew - Wing Nut or...?

While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called “the Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.” John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy: Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight! John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. There at the Jordan River those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life.

Matthew 3:1-‬6 MSG‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

You could spend a long time researching the extra biblical sources related to John the Baptist and especially his diet. Were the locusts he ate actual insects or were they something else? Before zooming in that close on one detail, it would help to look at the big picture.

Here is a man who lived presumably alone or with a few others in the desert. He didn't get his clothing at a shop in Jerusalem, he wore a garment made of camel hair and tied with a leather belt. There seems to be more of a message in his location and lifestyle than in anything he said. What was he trying to say, exactly?

If we are honest John the Baptist would be considered a fanatic, at best, not just by our standards but in his day as well. How then did he attract crowds? What drew them to leave towns and villages to go out and see him? I think we can all agree that if someone today dressed up in camel skins and went out into the desert to eat wild honey and locusts, no one would pay much attention.

The secret to John's success as a preacher of reform and righteousness was that his dress, diet, and location had meaning to his audience. None of it was random. John literally stepped back in time to a place his countrymen were familiar with, not by experience but by the stories passed down to them both in their sacred texts and by oral tradition. John was reliving the wilderness journey of Moses and the Israelites who escaped Egypt. He lived where their ancestors crossed the Jordan into the promised land. He ate what they ate. He dressed like they dressed. He called people to pass through the waters of the Jordan again. This time the journey through the water wasn't to find the promised land. That had proved to be a great disappointment. This time the journey was to find the Promised One and be changed from the inside out.

His methods were unexpected but proved very effective. He wasn't a crazy fanatic. He was a purposeful preacher of a better Story. He was inviting his countrymen to succeed where their ancestors failed...

We'll continue tomorrow...


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