(Based on Matthew 9:9; Mark 1:2-8)
Earth is a theater filled with a crowded audience.
The people are packed tightly together; expectant.
You’re there. Front row. Edge of your seat.
The curtains have opened.
Act One has been announced: The Beginning.
The lights shift gradually. A slight change in the hues of red and yellow. He’s not in the spotlight, but he’s standing inside the color formation, stage left. Before his lines are delivered, you know his role is important.
Without hesitation . . . right on cue . . . he doesn’t simply deliver his lines, he declares them.
MALACHI: Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.
Your eyes move to stage right where the slight change in blue and yellows directs your attention. Again, not in the spotlight but standing near the edge of the stage, another key role. Before you have time to absorb the previous lines, the following is delivered.
ISAIAH: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord! Make His paths straight!
Malachi and Isaiah’s roles are complete. They’ve delivered the message. They’ve made the introduction. They now exit the stage of history, and the colored hues of lights blend into one strong yellow beam. It’s shining brightly on a wilderness setting and scene one begins.
No one we would have chosen. In fact at his audition we would have been tempted to say, “Thanks but . . . no thanks.”
But filling the role and now standing center stage is John the Baptist. We actually smell him before we see him. Everything about him seems strange.
Such an important role! The forerunner. The baptizer.
And given to . . . him?
We shift uncomfortably in our seats. We want a well-dressed businessman. One who’s well educated in marketing. Someone who knows strategy; cause and effect; supply and demand. One who can predict trends and interpret graphs of steady growth vs. decline.
But we didn’t cast the role. And like it or not, it belongs to John the Baptist.
Again . . . strange. Before we have a chance to think too deeply about it, however, we realize we’re right inside of Mark 1:8. Right in the thick of John’s introduction.
Maybe we can get used to him. Perhaps we can become comfortable together. After all, hasn’t God always filled important roles with the least talented? Hasn’t He always used the least expected to accomplish great things? That’s one of the great benefits of being a Christ follower.
A teenage girl brings the Savior into our world.
A donkey speaks to its master.
A former Christian-killer delivers the gospel to the Gentiles.
Even so, John the Baptist may be one of the strangest. But it was Jesus Himself who declared, “among those born of women there has not risen one greater” (Matthew 11:11 NKJV).
Think about that. John smells bad. He doesn’t fit the mold. Or maybe he’s wearing mold. It’s hard to tell. But in plain English, he just stinks. He has no social skills. He’s different.
And what he eats is disgusting—locusts and other crawling things. He obviously doesn’t care about his appearance. He’s wearing . . . well, it’s . . . he’s wearing something made out of camel skin. Where are the animal rights people?
John is really really really different. But still, Jesus says this about him. Let’s look at it again:
“Among those born of women there has not risen one greater” (Matthew 11:11).
What a compliment! There have been a lot of compliments given throughout time. But can you think of one higher than this? Jesus said that John was great! That’s simply incredible. It’s amazing.
I really want this in my life.
I need this in my life.
I want to be great in Jesus’ eyes.
So, what was it? Really. What was it about John that caused Jesus to say those words? What made John so great? I want to know the answer to those questions. I need to know the answer to those questions.
I have my thoughts . . . but I’d love to know yours! So join the discussion below.
(And by the way . . . a little shameless promoting. This is an excerpt from my newest book Masterpiece: 18 encounters with Christ that prove it’s all about you! Don’t get it from Amazon. I sell it cheaper. If interested, you can send me an email, and I’ll tell you how to order directly from me: firstname.lastname@example.org).