Matthew 3:1-6 "In those days John the baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.""
Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan confessing their sins."
My reading plan had me in this passage today. John the Baptist. Familiar. But there is beauty in familiar things. Sunrises and sunsets, for instance, beauty. Sometimes the Spirit reminds us there is glory in the familiar. This morning was one of those times.
It's a peculiar scene. John the Baptist started preaching. Nothing that weird about that. But he came preaching in the wilderness. Now that is odd. The man God sent to bear witness about the Light started preaching to the wilderness. The wilderness! Not that great of a strategy John! He should have known better. If he wanted to reach the city of Jerusalem, he needed to go to the city center! Said/Say some. But as you know the wisdom of God is different than the wisdom of earth! It was the wilderness.
Who was John preaching to on those first few days of his work? I wonder: "Did he have a target demographic or even a plan? How would anyone hear his preaching? Maybe there was a passerby or some other wilderness hermit?" Who knows? John only knew; God was calling him to prepare the way for the Way that was coming. It is apparent, from John's strategy, or lack thereof, if his life, preaching, and ministry were to be effective God would have to do the work.
Notice how unattractive this whole episode would have been to the people. The words John is preaching are not inviting. "Repent" has been a repulsive word to every nation and generation. The food he consumed and the clothes he wore went against the food documentaries and pastor fashion websites of the day. To be fair, John was not trying to be repulsive, but his message and his person-hood were not naturally welcoming. He was not out to make friends and influence people. His goal was to be faithful in his calling and let God take care of the rest.
I can imagine the general sentiment of those first hearers "Wild Johnny boy's preaching won't amount to much." Oh how wrong the experts can be..... As John preached the word, ate honey, and slept, the Word did it all! The Word that was preached in that wilderness, somehow or another, made it to the ears of every sort of person in Jerusalem, Judea, and the entire region. People started coming to John! What?! Yes! God brought people to hear the word and confess their sins. People came. People listened. The people repented and were baptized! Revival!
However, God's unpredictable work was not recognized by some. The spiritual gurus of the day complete with their lineage, religion, formula's and agendas showed up. The good ole Pharisees and Sadducees. John saw right through their external actions and into their evil hearts. Being a child of God is not about being in the natural bloodline of Abraham. It's not about what you can do or not do. It is not about you at all really! It was about being in the supernatural bloodline of Abraham. Being a child of God is a result of the Work of God! Pharisees and Sadducees were not cool with this. Nor are many in our day, preferring the kind of results that come as a direct result of our planning and our work.
I find this whole episode so encouraging. We need God! I need God! Our church needs God! We need wisdom from above! You have a family member that does not know Jesus? You need God to open their eyes and ears! Do you desire as I do to see the baptismal waters stirred? We need God and his work!
So settle into whatever wilderness God has called you to today. Eat your locust and honey. Trust Jesus today. Point anyone you can to him! God kids? Point them to the Light. Got neighbors? Point them to the Light! He is working in and through you! The experts ramble on.