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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

John the Baptist

I have always admired John the Baptist for the way he handled Jesus’ arrival.  I know, I know – John had the Holy Spirit to guide him and all of that.  But still, given human nature, it could have been a real problem.

Think about people you work with now or have worked with in the past.  How many times has someone in your classification, someone doing the same things you do, get a promotion to supervisor and become a completely different person? 
And I don’t mean that in a nice way.  I mean they become bossy and arrogant, ordering people around just because they can.  Of course, resentment runs high so the workplace becomes tense, people become stressed, and the work doesn’t get done as smoothly and as timely as it should.

All because somebody gets, what we call in the South, the big head.
It’s just another form of greed.

Look at all those celebrities that have money out the wazoo and yet they constantly want their names known, their accomplishments known.  When their popularity goes down, they show up on game shows and reality TV. 
Because they still want that spotlight and the power that goes with it.  People fawn all over celebrities, which is something I guess I don’t understand.  From what I can tell, some of these people are popular just being themselves on a TV show. 

I think they should be paying us to watch them, not them getting paid extravagant amounts to be watched.
John the Baptist had disciples, he had followers, he baptized countless people.  The Bible says all the country of Judea and everyone who lived in Jerusalem came to him to be baptized. 

He was the center of attention and probably could have asked for just about anything from his followers and he would have gotten it.  They admired him, they looked up to him, they believed in him and his message.
Pretty heady stuff.

But when Jesus came, John stepped back.
He still had disciples because the Bible tells us that John sent some of them to ask Jesus if He was the One they had been waiting for.  He probably still had some folks that followed him around and listened to him.  But it couldn’t have been on the same scale as before Jesus came.

And yet he still preached, he still pointed people to Christ, just as he had done his whole ministry.
So I have admired John the Baptist for the way he stepped away from center stage.

Recently, I realized that this was not the first time someone in John’s family had done that very thing.
I had read many times the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, going to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was old and barren when God decided she should be the mother of John the Baptist.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, baby John jumped in his mother’s womb.

Here was Elizabeth, old, barren for years and now pregnant, talking to her young cousin whom she had not seen for at least 5 or 6 months.  Don’t you think the first words out of her mouth would have been about her own baby?
Elizabeth uttered 5 sentences to Mary.  The 4th was about her baby leaping for joy.

Like mother, like son.  Elizabeth recognized that Mary’s news was much greater than her own and she stepped back.
John recognized the Lamb of God and he stepped back.

It’s important to recognize that sometimes we just need to get out of the way so the Holy Spirit can do His work.
The next time you’re feeling frustrated, stop and look around.  Your answer could be just a step away.