Summary: A sermon showing the similarities and the differences between John the Baptist and his cousin Jesus. Text, audio, and communion meditation will be placed at www.sermonlist.com
‘In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah.’
Beginning in VERSE 4-6
‘John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
’People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.’
There are identical twins, who look just like each other and there are maternal twins, who do not look like each other. Not everything that is the same looks the same. Today, we are going to be talking about two people who were related by blood. They had similarities and they had differences. They looked very different from one another, but they had the same heart.
I am talking about John the Baptist and Jesus, our Christ. They had much in common, too. They were both very much at home in the wilderness; they were both used to trials in their lives; and they both had an extraordinary relationship with the Heavenly Father.
Both men preached the same basic message; both preached it outdoors; and both gave their disciples, or followers, a prayer. Both men told of a just God who would eventually give an accounting to each person.
And the most astounding think they shared was that each was born through an uncommon act of God, and both died from provoking an uncommon rage among the people who simply didn’t want to hear a message about change.
John said his sole purpose in life was to point the way to his younger cousin, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said that among all men who were born of women, none were higher than His older cousin, John.
Let’s start by talking about the older cousin.
1. HIS NAME WAS “JOHN.”
“John” means “gift of God.” This gift, however, didn’t come with the pretty ribbons and bows and fancy gift-wrapping. This gift came in a plain brown wrapper.
Think of John’s appearance. He wore a camelhair skin, and I am sure it smelled just like it was still on the camel. They didn’t have dry cleaners back then.
An immediate difference was that, as John wore a coat of camel hair, Jesus wore a robe that was so nice; the soldiers gambled for it at the cross.
John’s diet consisted partially of wild honey. How many bee stings did he had to endure to get enough honey to eat? He was probably stung so many times he had become used to it, and viewed the bees as nothing more than bothersome flies.
And how about those locusts? Some scholars believe the locusts he ate were actual grasshopper-like insects, and then there are other scholars who believe that the locusts being referred to were the wild locusts that grew on the locust trees. They were a type of seed that had a sweet coating on it, and is almost pure protein. At either rate, it would not have been the tastiest meal, would it?
John’s habitat was the wilderness, and this is noteworthy. Scripture almost always uses the wilderness as a symbol for a break from the phoniness of the world. It paints a picture of the wilderness as away from the corruption of mankind. And, it shows the wilderness a place that is not always easy to be in.
Jerusalem described itself as the city of salvation. But was it? Jerusalem killed the prophets and crucified our Messiah. By living in the wilderness John contradicted everything the city represented.
And of course there was John’s manner. He had relatively few tools in his toolbox. When he saw that the truth of God had to be upheld and the sin of the powerful rebuked, he reached into his toolbox and came up with its one and only tool: confrontation. It wasn’t long before he confronted Herodias, the wife of Herod the ruler.
John looked her in the eye and said, “First you married Phillip, your uncle. And then, you ‘fooled around’ with the man who is currently your husband. Then you allowed your daughter, Salome, to dance like a stripper in order to inflame a crowd of half-drunk military officers. You, Mrs. Herod, are adulterous and wicked, having no shame about you.”
And showing her evil side, she said, “I’ll have your head for that.”
If nothing else, John was focused on his mission, to tell people of the coming Messiah. His loincloth did not have pockets, so he kept his one and only sermon tucked neatly away in his head. It was a very simple sermon. He would tell people that the coming Judgment was nearly at hand, and it was being brought about by the appearance of Christ.