Christmas was great. We watched the kids dress up like sheep and tell us about the baby Jesus. We opened presents and drove a long way. Things aren’t perfect but they are pretty good. Time for a New Years party!
So what happens next?
What comes after the baby Jesus? The answer is John the Baptist. He lives in the wilderness. He eats bugs. He wears clothes that rub his skin raw and he breaks into beehives with his bare hands. His hair is all matted and he has a crazed look in his eyes. Run! The Baptist is coming to wreck your party.
Here is the deal. John the Baptist lived a life that should scare us sober. He was Jesus’ cousin. An angel told his parents that he should follow certain rules for his entire life, the rules of a Nazirite. You can find these in Numbers chapter 6. He couldn’t eat or drink anything made from grapes. But people drank wine at every meal and ate a lot of raisins. No parties for John. He could never be near a dead body. If his mom died he couldn’t go to the funeral. And he could NEVER cut his hair. Just like Samson. Samson had long braids. In John’s case think dreadlocks.
At about 13 he left home and lived in the wilderness. Hot, desert-ish scrubland. He was alone there for 15 years! What did he do? He prayed, listened and looked for God.
Around the age of 30 he began yelling a message from God. Word spread and thousands of people went to hear him. He yelled at them and then he baptized them. Jesus came. John screamed something about this guy being a lamb and saving the world. About four people paid attention.
After that he called the king a godless sinner. They arrested him and chopped off his head.
What kind of life is this? No friends. No family. Virtually no childhood. No job, no parties, basically no food, no stuff, no nothing. An entire life devoted to just one word: REPENT.
And what does that mean? It means recognize that something is wrong. The world is not just okay. Your life is not just okay.
We are so used to the things being wrong that we put on a smile and ignore them. The people John spoke to lived in a world filled with evil, corruption and oppression. But that is how its always been right? Can’t do anything about that. Just do your best and enjoy what you can. John said NO.
It’s the same for us. We are blind to the things we do wrong. We shake our heads at the news every day, but do nothing. And just think of all those family issues you ignored last week. John says NO.
The baby Jesus came to bring peace. But no one can receive Jesus unless they accept what the Baptist has to say.