If location is the key to successful ministry, he was doomed for failure.
Even his dietary habits were suspect. But the words that flowed from his gut compelled people to return again and again, seeking God’s favor.
However, it was his message that would be the most repugnant to our modern ears. His message was “Repent!” He didn’t shyly request but demanded that the entire nation of Judea turn from their wickedness and return to their God.
Studying the history of the nation of Judea, it would seem that his message of repentance was misplaced. This was a people who had learned their lesson through the hard displacement times in Babylon. These men and woman were faithful to Temple worship. Synagogues had been established so that the study of the scriptures could be maintained between the prescribed feasts and worship times. Even though no prophets had been heard for more than 400 years, these were a people who adhered to the law of Moses and strictly observed the precepts demanded by the religious leaders of the day.
As I shared these observations with the Special Gathering members who are mentally challenged (intellectually disabled), I asked if they didn’t get tired of people who are continually giving them correction. Do we like always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time? Their heads bobbed up and down in recognition. “It’s hard to take,” one member observed out loud.
However, I shared with our members that this isn’t a problem merely within the disability community. It is a universal problem. It seems that every person on earth is caught repeatedly “a half-hour late and $5 short.” When we are honest with ourselves, late at night or when we look into the mirror shaving in the morning, we must admit that there is no hope for us without the mercy of a loving God.
John, the Baptist, was preparing the hearts and minds of God’s people for the emergence of the Messiah, Jesus. John said, “Turn from your sin. Confess your faults. Get ready for the arrival of the Messiah.”
Too often, John’s message is lost to me because I’m too busy doing good works. Sadly, I identify too much with the Jews who lived in this pivotal time in history. I am “a good person.” But God desires people who are holy and fully seeking Him. Replacing “goodness” with repentance is my favorite Christian hobby.
There is always a need for honest self-examination that is ready to turn from our selfish and wicked way and return to a loving, forgiving Lord.