Gerry Gutierrez' Update
"John believed in himself and in his own message".
June 6/17/GA. Matthew 3:1 to 12.
WAS A MAN WITH GREAT ADVANTAGES."
A preacher without a pulpit! John's parish was the desert. His sermons were anointed sermons. His message was "Repent!" His urgency was "the kingdom of heaven is near." His words were short, precise, pithy, concise, brief, compact, succinct, focused on repentance.
His zip code was the desert of Judea. His dress code was camel's hair and leather belt. His diet was locust and honey. His voice was loud and clear. His credential was "A prophesied, predicted and predestined life." His claim to fame was " to be the cousin of Jesus." His method was " direct straight forwardness". His daily occupation was to baptize those who came in repentance and confession of sin.
His dislikes were clear; while he welcome the penitent sinners and touched them tenderly and baptize them; his strongest words were kept for the religious establishments. "You blood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance and do not think you can say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our Father. I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the tree, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hands, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
The secret of a Great Preacher should be evident in this passage. "IF we lift up Jesus, he will draw men into himself". Even in the desert of loneliness, God will give his servants harvest of souls who will come invited by the word of God and will come attracted by the sweet name of Jesus being lift up by John as a faithful preacher and lover of Jesus.
A man of God who lifts the name of the Son of God will be praise by God as, "The greatest man born of Women". That is what Jesus thought of John and testify about John.
But the one thing it must not go unnoticed is that John is a man full of advantages over the rich and the poor, the great and the small. John is a free man over whom there was not the controlling power of a corporation or the taskmaster looking over his shoulder just because he wrote the checks of his salary. John refused salary and thus took away the whip of the controlling taskmaster.
His freedom was his advantage among the rich and powerful. Mammon (Money) was a toothless Lion to John the Baptist. His poverty among the poor took away the entitlement and self-pity from the hands of the poor.
His message to them was "If I can live on locust and honey, so can you." By word and deed John testified the sufficiency of Jesus in his life and ministry.
While others are paid to be good in the ministry, John was good for nothing. There is another detail that we must not overlook in John. John was in no way a man involved in self-pity, "the poor little me syndrome". On the contrary, he spoke boldly as a true man invested with advantages. He knew to be a man of power and naturally speak about it in a child like manner. John said: "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Hold Spirit and with fire".
The eyes of John were open and he had made a proper assessment of self and the world in 30 years of silence and came to the conclusion as to say, "I am second only to Jesus". That was the truth and therefore not arrogance of false humility, which can be more harmful because false humility is also hypocrisy.
Many may find questionable this line of reasoning and sanctimoniously say, "no one should grade self and grant passing grades to self so generously." To that I say: "No one knows self better as oneself". I am not going to believe other’s definitions of me more than my knowledge of myself before God. If my self examination in the closet of my heart before God has not lead me to that conclusion of who I am in Jesus; then Jesus is absent from my life and I need to repent like any other penitent.
Then I will do well in keeping silent and refrain from preaching to others until I believe in my own sermons and myself. I am sure there must be happier men around the world than me, but I do not know them in their hearts. But I know my self and I am a witness to my self first before I am to testify to others.
The greatness of John was not on his diet, clothing or his neighborhood or even in his relation to Jesus and Abraham.
His greatness and humility resided in the proper assessment of self and act accordingly even if that meant ostracism, which meant a temporary exclusion by popular vote from society without trial from common privileges or social acceptance, commonly practiced in ancient Greece.
Definitely a man cannot please people and God at the same time. John was a man for who even his name was already chosen before he was born. John the unborn son of Elizabeth and Zachariah was able to recognize Jesus even from the womb of her "old" mother by leaping at the sound of Mary’s voice pregnant with Jesus.
Elizabeth as a pregnant old women must have been qualified to an appointment with the sons of Doctor Kevorkian in the office of "Planned Parenthood" as a high risk pregnancy and "life-threatening" to the mother. Besides, what kind of Father would Zacharias be as a mute man?
Even though John was the "powerful #2", he could not "lift up and carry the sandal of Jesus" by his own admission. But John was strong enough to go ahead of Jesus cleaning the way for who must have been walking barefooted. Jesus who must have left his sandals at auntie Elizabeth’s house that John should who have brought the sandal but found to heavy to carry them, later he felt bad and decide instead to clean the path of Jesus ahead of Jesus so his feet may not strike a rock or step on thorns. (By the way, there is room for humor in the pulpit). Under the principle of "pray and play", which is what it used to be the daily occupation in the Garden of Eden at the cool of the Day.
It is reasonable to our purified imagination to think of God in Jesus still playing with us loving games like "Hide and go Seek". We hide behind a tree and cover ourselves with fig leaves to cover our naked bodies in shame, while God finds us and clothes us with temporary garments as the prototype of the garment that his Son Jesus would purchase on the cross to completely and effectively cover us. Thus God protect us from the flaming sword of the angel at the entrance of Paradise at our return home.
God in turn is seeking those who worship him in Spirit and truth.
God also hides things, that eyes have not seen and ears have not heard. When he hides, no one can find unless he reveals himself to those who love him.
Much in the same way Jesus plays with John who goes ahead of "barefooted" Jesus cleaning the way for Jesus who seen to have lost his sandals because according John; Jesus sometimes did not tied his sandals, and John who was older the Jesus by few months felt "unworthy to tie his sandals" and did not tie it and "unable to carry his sandals”, John found easier to clean the path for Jesus.
But according Proverbs 5:21 "For the ways of man are before the eyes of Jehovah; and he makes it level all his paths”.
So, who is cleaning and making level the paths?
Imagine and laugh a little, it is ok to laugh.
John walking backwards sweeping the path with some olive and fig branches and can not see well because of the dust that behind him Jehovah is sweeping the path for John and Jesus.
I got a kick out of imagining the grin of God at the thought of John taking his job so seriously that even to forget to smile and preach "kindly" and not as one clouded by the dust of service to God that sometimes causes people to lose vision.
John seem to preach kind and short messages of repentance and grace to the sinners, but his face changed to a frown in displeasure when he spoke to religious people who should have known better but were specialists in making excuses to neglecting duty with all kinds of arguments such as being affiliated to Abraham as his children.
John the Baptist as witness of Jesus has set and example of serving Jesus with Power and authority. He believed in himself and he believed in his own message. Do not expect other to believe that which you yourself do not believe to be true totally.
I am a witness of Jesus by the will of God who testifies to the beloved elect of God.