Saturday, January 14, 2017

Epiphanies - John the Baptist

I am pleased to report a couple of personal epiphanies gleaned from Christmastime Bible study, and I share them during this season of Epiphany. 

First comes an appreciation for John the Baptist. (Luke, chapters 1 & 3) I’m growing more comfortable with the "tell it like it is" prophets of the Old Testament. They have no concern for political correctness. Their societal critiques are unvarnished. 

It is significant that God speaks through John to begin the New Testament, heralding the Messiah’s arrival. Something big is happening! God uses John to dial up the volume. 

John’s father, Zachariah, was a priest. At his infant son’s bris, he offered his own prophecy... 

Now you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go before the Lord to prepare his way. You will make his people know that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven. With the loving mercy of our God, a new day from heaven will dawn upon us. It will shine on those who live in darkness, in the shadow of death. It will guide us into the path of peace. (Luke 1:76-79, NCV) 

A new day from heaven has guides. That's something to pray about: 

Lord Christ, John the Baptist kept popping up in my Advent Bible readings. I've always viewed him as a cranky, eccentric in the desert, eating locusts. There's no place for him in a Christmas pageant! 

...but my understanding has improved. John was a "miracle baby" who grew up to be a devout, uncompromising prophet. Focused and totally committed. As the saying goes, he spoke truth to power. That cost John his life. 

He's a hero...and I'm feeling pretty shallow. 

I miss or dismiss miracles every day. Holy Spirit, help me to notice God's work and presence. 

I'm compromised by privilege and pop culture. Holy Spirit, help me with holiness. 

There are faithful voices that make me uncomfortable. Holy Spirit, help me to hear the prophets in my path.

I easily slip into denial. John grabs my attention:

Change your hearts and lives because the kingdom of heaven is near. Do the things that show you really have changed... (Matthew 3:2, 8 NCV) 


Sculpture attributed to Gianfrancesco Rustici, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston