Summary: In John the Baptist we have an example of humble living, speaking truth, and always pointing beyond ourselves to Christ.
“POINTING BEYOND OURSELVES”
By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Approximately three-hundred years before John the Baptist came on the scene...
...God had promised through the prophet Isaiah that a person would come and announce the coming of the
...Isaiah said he would be: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in
the wilderness a highway for our God.”
And John is this man!
John was a man of the wilderness.
Our Gospel lesson tells us that he wore clothing made of camel’s hair...and he ate locusts and wild honey.
Locusts can mean the little bugs or a nut, the carob that poor people often ate.
The honey may have come from wild bees or it may have been a kind of sap from certain trees.
Whatever it was...the point is that John ate the diet of the very poor.
He was a simple prophet who pointed to someone beyond himself!
“And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness
of sins...and the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him.”
They left the city...and went into the wilderness...they went out to him!
This is interesting because repentance is deeply rooted in the wilderness.
Just think of the Exodus.
In order to prepare the way for Christ’s coming, God had the people go back to their beginnings with
God...He had them return to the wilderness!
Just as Israel had long ago been separated from Egypt...from slavery in Egypt...by a pilgrimage through
the waters of the Red Sea...
...John the Baptist is calling them to once again experience separation...
...this time it is separation from their slavery to sin...
...this is a second exodus for Israel...
...in order for them to be prepared for a new covenant with God.
And their willingness to return to the wilderness reminds us that Israel’s history is one of disobedience
...and a desire to begin once more.
And John’s proclamation of the forgiveness of sins gives the people and us the assurance that God is still
willing to extend His grace!
We might ask: “Why did God have them return to the wilderness?”
I think it is symbolic...
...in the sense that they were called to return to a place where their dependence was soley on God...
...and in order to truly repent they...
...like all of us...
...had to exchange their pride for humility!
John was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
And this baptism was the symbol of repentance.
The mood, the spirit, the act of repentance is the main thing!
Repentance is more than ‘penitence’ or ‘godly sorrow for sin.’
The Greek word for Repentance means a complete change of mind, a new direction of the will, and
altered purpose in life....
...it is a turning away from sin...
...and a turning to the Lord!
Repentance is not merely remorse...
...it is not just admitting mistakes...
...it is not just saying to ourselves, “I have been a fool!”
Who hasn’t said these things?