Summary: This is a time of the year for cliches and spiritual sappy-talk. John the Baptist offers a fresh perspective.
Mark 1:1-8 WHAT WOULD JOHN THE BAPTIST SAY TO YOU?
Sometimes, when you hear the same thing all the time, it starts to become less and less meaningful. For example, right now, at this time in the year, the newspaper, the TV, and the radio are all saying the same thing: “There is a special sale going on right now. JCPenny is having a special, one-day only sale. Sears is having a special, three hour sale, Saturday only, from 7AM until 10AM. Kohl’s is having a yellow dot sale – some things are marked down 50 to 75 percent off! You better get there fast, because there are incredible deals at these sales. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you, and you don’t want to miss it.” When you see these commercials or read these ads, you feel a sense of urgency. At first, you think, “Wow, I really don’t need anything, but it sounds too good to miss.”
But after awhile, this kind of advertising becomes less and less meaningful. You start to realize that JCPenny has one-day-only sales all the time. The Saturday only, three hour sale at Sears will happen again, there’s no doubt about that. And when you go to the Kohl’s yellow dot sale, you see that most of the items with yellow dots are things you really don’t want. The advertising, the sales, all becomes less and less meaningful. And the reason why is because we have become saturated with advertising language. It all sounds the same.
I wonder if this is how it is as people think about the spiritual aspect of Christmas. What is the real meaning of Christmas? I wonder if our society has become saturated with the same cliches, the same spiritual sappy-talk you hear every December. So much talk about love and sharing and caring and singing and hugging! Christmas! A time for family. A time for charity. Every day you hear this, in between the advertising for sales at local stores. And then all the churches jump on the bandwagon and say the same sorts of things. Come to our church, they all say. We are the friendliest. We have the best pastor. We have the best Sunday School. We have the best worship services. Come to us, and you will experience all the love and sharing and caring and hugging and singing that you’re looking for this time of the year. Are we becoming saturated with spiritual sappy-talk during the month of December?
And then you meet John the Baptist, and you realize right away that he is different from all the others. I don’t think you’d see him at any of those one-day sales at JCPenny – we’re told that he wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt, probably homemade, around his waist. Instead of Thanksgiving turkey, we’re told that he ate locusts and wild honey. He probably would have done well on the television series Survivor. But he probably would have been the first one voted off the island, because of the things he said – his message. He doesn’t use that spiritual sappy-talk you hear every December. He doesn’t use all those cliches about caring and sharing and family and giving and hugging and singing that you hear this time of the year. You can tell right away that he’s not a salesman – John the Baptist will not try to sweet talk you into anything. And he’s certainly not a politician, trying to match his words to whatever the popular opinion of the day is. He’s a breath of fresh air. This guy doesn’t care what people say or think about him. And his message is one that hits you in the heart.