The burglar says “What kind of a person names a parrot God?”
The parrot says, “The same kind of person who names a Rottweiler
All of which is to say that no one likes to hear a word of judgment. No one likes to be told that their actions have a consequence. And certainly no one likes to be told to change direction. And here is
He comes out of the wilderness, a throw-back to the Old Testament prophet of old, and yet something quite new. His prophetic action—his object lesson to get across his point—is that for the people to live they need to change direction, they need to publicly renounce their sins and change direction. He was preaching that people need to turn towards God. More than that, their lives must show it.
It’s not just right belief. It’s not just a changed heart. Belief and repentance must show up in renewed living. So John saves his harshest words for them—God’s judgment will begin with the most religious. Was he a madman? Or it is that we just don’t like to hear a word of judgment?
Actually many of us really enjoy a word of judgment—when it is directed at someone else! I will bet that a lot of common folks, a lot of everyday people at the Jordan River got a good laugh at John berating the High and Mighty. That feels good.
One reason that some people get so hyped up, riled up and wound up over other people’s private lives is that is much easier to look at other people’s sins, the need for other people’s repentance that it is for us to look at our own. If it wasn’t so, then we’d have nothing to read in the check-out line. The challenge comes when we have to look deep inside our own lives, take responsibility for our choices and change—really change. That’s a challenge.
Have you ever noticed that only two Gospels—Matthew and Luke—spend any time on the story of Jesus’ birth but all four talk about
But there are differences. Jesus is building on John’s
We have to be careful not to make
We often picture the devil holding a pitchfork; but
And we frequently picture the devil standing around fire; but in Matthew,
We baptized people who have been adopted into Christ’s Body the Church are a new people. And we still sin. We are still very imperfect. We are both. We are holy and we are ordinary. We are healed and we are still sick. We are marked as Christ’s own forever and we are still free to turn away.
We are both wheat and chaff. We are always in need of winnowing. Our cleansing is more than having being dipped or washed the water of baptism; it is also being tossed in the air and letting “Holy Wind” blow away the worthless stuff. Heaven's rule has come -- and we are still waiting for its arrival. We have been baptized, cleansed, winnowed, sorted but the process is not once and done. It goes on our whole lives.
We know that some early Christians, Andrew the Apostle for one, were at first followers of
No one likes to hear a word of judgment. When we creep around the dark places of our lives, the last thing we want to hear is that “God is watching.” But God does more than watch…God acts to change us. God is with us in Jesus Christ. His life, death and resurrection has made is so we can live a new life with God. The Holy Spirit teaches us. And now, God sends us people to teach and warn and mentor us. We have that gift of the Holy Spirit to renew us, burn and blow away the stuff that hinders us and weighs us down. We are being winnowed and sorted and together we are finding this new way of life a life-long, life-changing process.