Summary: Using your social capital for Jesus
Advent 4, 2007 - John 1: 19-29
When our children grow up you will___________. You can fill in the blank: No matter what you put in that blank I pretty sure that all of you pictured a better life for your children. We want to give our children every advantage. I don’t think John the Baptist’s parent’s would have been any different if anything they might have had grander schemes than us as when they had John they were already the age of many great grandparents.
Elizabeth his mom, was a godly woman whose father had been a priest in the Temple and John’s dad, Zecheriah was a priest in the temple. Imagine the dreams they had for there long awaited son. He would be a continue in the family business and be a priest extrordinare, perhaps even an high priest. Taking the family business to a new level of distinction. How could he think any different, I mean, Zech was visited by no other than Gabriel, one of the Chief Angels of God, and he told Zech, “Your prayer has been heard. Lizzie, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. Old man, you are going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you — many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.” Oh ya¿ Zech thought to himself, or so he thought and the Angel continued, "He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God." In short, He’ll become a great prophet and priest. Now as you know Zech had a hard time believing this, being an old man. But I bet once Lizzie was pregnant I’m sure Zech truly began to dream dreams for his son.
I invite you to turn your Attention to today’s appointed Gospel lesson found in John 1:19-29, where we pick up the story of John the Baptist as an adult.
As we pick up the story we see that John is being asked, “Who are you?” Fair enough question to ask someone who’s gathering a large group of followers. We do the same thing with all of our celebrities and leaders, always looking for the dirt hoping to reveal what a failure this person truly is. We’re so interested in the dirt of our celebrities and leaders that 3 out of every 5 dollars spent on magazines goes towards precisely that.
Now when John was approached by the paparazzi, the same thing happened to him. And ironically he did something that Paris Hilton has figured out when dealing with the Paparazzi, tell them the truth, give them your itinerary. Likewise, John was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: "I am not the Messiah."
This didn’t satisfy them, they wanted more; so they continued asking questions. ’If your not the Messiah, who then? Excuse Me Mr. Baptist, Do you claim to be Elijah?’
’I am not Elijah.’
’Mr. Baptist, Are you sure your not Elijah the Prophet?’ And emphatically John replies, "I am not."
It’s a good thing this interview happened before the Gospels were written, imagine the field day they would have had if they had Jesus’ quote saying that John was Elijah, but that’s a story for another issue.
Exasperated, they said, "Who, are you then? We need an answer for our bosses, they have sent us to find out the truth about who you are, and a little dirt wouldn’t hurt. Tell us something - - anything! - about yourself, we have a story write."
Alright then, John thinks to himself, "I’m thunder in the desert: ‘Make the road straight for God!’ And this is where Paris Hilton and John the Baptist part ways. Paris at this point would be talking about herself, perhaps about her new perfume, ‘Paris Hilton for Women’ or her line of clothing or most recently promoting Rich Prosecco a sparkling Italian wine in a can. Whereas John says its not about me at all, its about preparing the way for God, the coming Messiah. I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached so long ago.’
Hoping for a scoop the papparazi press on They needed a story - ya ya ya fine, your preparing the way for God! But if your not the Messiah, and your not Elijah, and your not the Prophet? Why do you baptize? Thinking they had him now.
John answered, "I only baptize using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. ’Who is this person? Can you identify him for us?’ “He comes after me, but get this straight guys – are you listening? Are you camras and mics ready, are you recording this? The one I’m talking about is no second place to me, he’s no runner up. He is so great that I’m not even worthy toie his shoee nver mind hold his coat." I can see our reporter wrapping up, saying ’this is George Stromblopolis reporting Live from Bethany on the far shores of the Jordan River where this John guy is baptizing.’