by Doug Newell
There was something strange going on out in the wilderness. Actually, someone strange was out in the wilderness. If you were to follow the crowds, you would have heard this man before you saw him, and when you saw him, you would have known who it was you were looking for. His clothes were as different as his message. He was wearing a cloak of camel’s hair and a leather belt, preaching about the kingdom of God. We might not want to eat dinner with him, since he enjoyed a steady diet of locusts and wild honey, but that was a staple diet for rugged mountaineers who lived off the land. His name was John. You know him as John the Baptist, because that was the other odd thing he did. He dunked his followers under the murky waters of the Jordan River. All of this was peculiar and very new and as with anything that is peculiar and very new, John attracted people who were interested in the latest trending topics. But, keeping with John’s way of life, he wasn’t interested in popularity. Point of fact, John called some of those that were interested in his baptism names. Calling visitors a “brood of vipers” is not in the church growth strategy manuals, but John hadn’t read any of those books.
John was preaching a new message. He was preaching the kingdom of heaven was at hand because the king had come. John was the first prophet in 400 years; the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. He came to announce the long awaited Christ was coming and prepare the people for the arrival of the king. John’s message was one of repentance. It is to change the way you think about everything, including yourself and God. Turn from your sin and turn to Jesus. You turn from being the lord of your life to bowing down to the lordship of Jesus. You turn from iniquity to holiness. You change how you talk, what you do, how you treat your spouse and children, what you think about yourself and how you treat yourself and others because you now love and follow the Lord. A supernatural quickening; the creation of a new creature which brings the evidences of a new life. Repentance and faith turns your world upside-down. When people heard the message, and repented, they were to be baptized, or immersed under the water as a sign of the death to the old life of sin and the new life of godliness following the Lord God. John’s message was to announce the king is coming. The Christ was on his way, ready or not. The fact of Jesus arrival was plain. John gave two options, turn or burn. Submit to King Jesus or be judged by King Jesus. There was no third way. John was right, King Jesus did arrive, and his message still stands. Repent and behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.