I guess I really am a prophet! My prediction for worship numbers last Sunday was right on! But come to think of it, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that folks would react to Thanksgiving and Black Friday mayhem by using Sunday as a true day of rest. It certainly didn’t take a prophet!
The text for next Sunday, though, will feature a real prophet, John the Baptist, the wilderness preacher who Jesus called the greatest man ever born to a woman. In Matthew’s gospel he simply appears on the scene as a prelude to the Jesus’ story; nothing is said of his background or origin. Obviously he’s a significant figure, but all we get from Matthew is a brief description of his ministry and his connection to Jesus.
I believe that John was a big deal in his day. Josephus, the great Jewish historian, mentions him at length and says no more than a sentence or two about Jesus. John had large numbers of disciples and was a political force to be reckoned with. Even King Herod feared him. But who was he, and where did he come from?
Based on my reading and a little bit of imagination I’ve constructed a backstory for John that I think helps make some sense of what he says in this week’s text from Matthew 3:1-12. It might also help us understand why Jesus also says of him, “The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” I’ll be sharing that backstory as part of my sermon this Sunday, and I hope it helps us all understand the beauty of Jesus’ life and radical legacy.
I hope your Advent is going well, and that you’ve managed to develop a daily ritual to guide your meditation and prayer. I’ll see you at worship!