John the Baptist is such an interesting character in our New Testament stories. Many times he is painted as a cartoon of a human being. We see him angry, acting crazed out by the Jordan, ranting at those who will listen to him, baptizing any and all who come to him, railing against the status quo, warning about the judgment of the one who is to follow him. And although he can be seen as all of these things in their individual vignettes, if we take a step back and look at the whole picture, the whole forest and not the individual trees, we see something quite different.
Yes, John the Baptist can be quite confrontational and outrageous, but there is also a directness about him. There is an honesty about what he believes and who he is. There is a deep humbleness to him. The harshness of his rhetoric can sometimes overwhelm our understanding of this deep place of understanding John had for himself and his ministry.
John answered, I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me. I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.
What a great verse to take us into Lent: to reflect upon during this season of self-examination. Whom do we not know among us? Who is greater than us?
Copyright 2009, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.