6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: John the Baptist is one person who recognized the person to whom he was answerable. He only lived for God’s sake!

I’m not sure how many of you have seen the most recent Star Wars release that came out a couple of years ago now, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. If you did, I have no doubt that one of the supporting characters caught your attention. His name was Jar Jar Binks, and he was, in my eyes the most irritating character in the movie. Many adults and critics complained about Jar Jar because it gave a somewhat racist charicature and was at times over the top in the category of annoying and obnoxious.

At the 1999 Visual Effects Society seminar, the movie’s effect supervisor, Rob Coleman, was asked about his reaction to the character. He explained that George Lucas intended Jar Jar to appeal to children under age 15, and the character hit its target audience perfectly. When my son Trent saw the movie, of course Jar Jar was his favorite part. He dressed up like Jar Jar for Halloween and wound up buying a Jar Jar Binks t-shirt. Coleman went on to say, “When I first read the script, I had a reaction similar to what many of you had when you saw the movie.” The crowd laughed, but Coleman ended with these words: “I only had one audience member to please, and that was George Lucas. If he were happy with what we were doing with Jar Jar, then I was happy.”

In the gospel of Luke there is no question about who the star of the show is. The entire book is written to promote one primary character, Jesus the Son of God. He is a man with a mission, to save the world from the consequences of sin. Throughout his gospel, Luke records Jesus doing many great things, like healing the sick and raising the dead, teaching incredible lessons and meeting all kinds of other needs. Jesus is always in the spotlight of Luke’s gospel. However there are some supporting characters that are particularly noteworthy. Among my favorites is a guy who was pretty over the top in his own right.

The guy was a nazirite from birth, which meant he lived according to some pretty strict rules including the food he ate and the drinks he could have. It also meant he couldn’t have his hair cut, so by the time he was in his mid-30’s you can imagine what he looked like. He lived out in the desert by himself. For supper he enjoyed fresh locusts dipped in wild honey. He wore clothes made out of animal skins, and he preached fiery sermons about repentance and the wrath of God. And the amazing thing is that though his messages were harsh and his manner wasn’t refined, people flocked to hear what he had to say.

But you know the thing I like most about John the Baptist? It didn’t matter how many people came to hear what he had to say, he realized that he was playing to an audience of one. It didn’t matter how large his crowd, or how much pressure he got for preaching his message. He never forgot that there was only one audience member he had to please, and that was his boss, the God who called him to live such a profound life. Let’s take a look at what Jesus thinks about John in Luke 7:24-33.

Background. (John is in prison, expressing a little doubt because Jesus isn’t doing what he expects. Maybe he’s wondering why Jesus isn’t getting him out of prison. Anyway he sends a couple of guys to ask Jesus to confirm that He is the Messiah. When they ask Jesus a couple of questions, he takes them out to watch him perform several miracles, then sends them back to tell John what they saw. As he sends them back, he offers an encouragement to John to remain steadfast, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”)

(Read Luke 7:24-33)

Those last verses really struck me in light of the times in which we live. Jesus points us to a profound truth that will completely change your life if you recognize it. When you live your life to please an audience of one, some people will hate your performance. If your sole motivation for living is to please God, there will always be detractors who think that you have lost your marbles.

You see, back in first century Israel there couldn’t have been two people more different in their personality than John and Jesus. Even though they were cousins, their lifestyles were night and day. If you wanted to find John you had to take a trip to the desert. He fasted and lived a very ascetic lifestyle. Nobody ever considered putting John on the guest list to their party, because he was just too weird. John’s ministry called him to live outside the culture and shout at it from the fringes.

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