“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
We live in perilous times. Truth is considered by many a personal choice. The lines blur between reality and fantasy as people are bombarded by fake news, revised versions of “history”, and augmented reality devices become widely available and sought after by the masses. The glut of untested and undocumented information creates an atmosphere of confusion. People are losing their capacity to discern truth from error.
Nothing New Under the sun
Similar confusion existed when the long promised Messiah arrived on earth in a little town called Bethlehem. Rome had conquered the world, administrated by men like Pontius Pilate who famously asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Cities were completely given over to idolatry, sensuality, and self. Slavery was the technology of industry. Mob rule ensued when the economy was threatened (or was perceived to be threatened).
Closer to the Truth
Standing in high relief against the vice of the Roman world were the Jewish people with their laws and traditions and worship of the true God. Yet they were divided. Some Jewish leaders thought that political upheaval was the answer, hence the Zealots. Others thought that strict adherence to the Law was the answer (Pharisees). Their authorities abused this conviction by adding law upon law, making it impossible for anyone to live “righteously”. Sadducees were something like Jewish nihilists, teaching that there is no resurrection, only the grave. Despite so many competing voices, there was great anticipation that God would send his Anointed One, the promised Prophet, Priest, and King.
Most thought he would be a political deliverer who would restore Israel to her former glory, as in the days of David or Solomon. Though they held the Holy Scriptures in their hands, they did not discern well. They interpreted reality (and prophecies) through the lens of their own aspirations, dreams, and desires. Their idea of a Messiah was not God’s idea of a Messiah.
So when Messiah arrived, they neither recognized nor received him.
A Clear Voice for Grace and Truth
One clear voice emerged to set things straight: John the Baptizer. John was eccentric, a prophet in the truest sense. He lived apart in the wilderness. He ate whatever he could find in that arid land. He called people to turn back to God, baptizing and preparing a people for the arrival of God’s Promised One. He did so fearlessly.
But being a prophet can be dangerous business. Truth alienates (and often angers) those ducking for the shadows. Truth tellers push the keepers of the status quo to the limit. Pharisees and Sadducees make odd bedfellows, yet they united against both John and the One he was preparing for.
In an age of confusion, though, people look for clarity–especially when it comes to the will of God. Ordinary people were drawn to John because he both understood and taught that Jesus’ mission was to be “the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.” Who will declare this good news to our generation?
Your clear voice is needed
We need many John the Baptizers in our generation. We need clear voices calling out above the din and roar of partisan politics, social media, and personal comfort.
Will you be a clear voice in your generation? Will you risk looking weird, wild, and wooly to speak Truth? Our generation will never find clarity in this chaos if we don’t bring it.
Take a risk. Shake the gates of hell by standing out in high relief from this generation as “a voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Lead people to the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Jesus is mounting his white horse, adorning himself in white robes, taking up his sword and preparing to come. We dare not delay.