John the Baptist was written by Candid Gal, Valerie Riese
We fall in love with the Bible characters to whom we most relate. We inherit their struggles and adopt their hopes as our own, even though the Bible gives us just a keyhole peek of their most candid moment before the Savior.
So, we wonder, what else did Jesus say? What was He thinking as He ministered to those broken and lost, just like you and me?
Join me to eavesdrop on what might have been during the most candid moment for one of my favorite Bible characters, John the Baptist, because his moment is our moment, his story is our story, and his God is our God.
He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”John 1:23 NIV
“I refuse to buy writing junk or a dumb Jesus t-shirt. You don’t like professional wrestling or rock music, so I got you a candle for your desk. Happy birthday. I hope you like it.”
My immediate response was, well, no response at all. She knew I always burn candles to help me focus while I write and research, and it was my favorite scent. I decided she must be joking and thanked her for the thoughtful gift.
After supper, I sat down at my desk and lit the candle. Then, I opened my laptop and noticed a new comment on my latest blog post, this one from a reader somewhere in Australia. “My friend doesn’t know I saw her eyes roll back as I bowed my head to pray before lunch. Thank you for your encouraging words and for helping me remember I’m never alone…”
I heard wrestling on the TV in the next room, so I shut my office door, and opened my Bible to the Book of John, which begins with a story about John the Baptist.
John the Baptist
Prophets wrote about John the Baptist centuries before his birth because God set him apart to prepare people for Jesus’s ministry. John’s job was to wander the wilderness, telling sinful people to change their ways because the Messiah was on His way.
The Bible tells us John’s lifestyle was unique for his day. Instead of the normal diet of fruits, vegetables, bread, and wine, John lived on locusts and honey.
He didn’t dress like most people, either. While his audience wore linen, cotton, or wool robes, John went retro. He wore camel’s hair, like the prophets from centuries before. As a Nazarite from birth, John never got a haircut or drank wine. While he had followers who embraced his teaching, there is no record of John having a family or a home.
The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I bet John knew he was different. However, the Bible does tell us that Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11, NIVa).
John and Jesus
John and Jesus were cousins, and they were the same age. While it is possible they met as children, John did not know Jesus was the Son of God until he baptized Jesus in the Jordan river (John 1:32-33). Matthew records the only known conversation between Jesus and John.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented.”Matthew 3:13-15 NIV
I closed my Bible and wondered what else happened that day. Did Jesus walk out of the water and, without a word, head straight to the desert to begin His forty days of temptation?
I imagined the two cousins taking a short walk at dusk or eating a fireside meal before Jesus left the next morning. Jesus knew John had a tough road ahead, and I wonder what Jesus might have said to encourage him. Perhaps it was something like this.
John, I see you and I know your task is difficult. I know people talk about you in the marketplace, and some come only to see if the stories are true. But John, you are so much more than a voice crying in the wilderness.
You are My precious child.
This is how My Father made you. You are My perfect marquee, lighting the way for those who hear our voice. Whether the people seek you to be saved or to sneer, as they stare at you, they hear about Me.
John, please know that as you wander the desert, you are blazing a trail for Me, those who will follow Me, and for those who will cry My name through the wilderness.
So, keep giving them something to talk about. And get used to people talking about you, because your story will inspire generations of those who will follow in your footsteps.
John, you are never alone, and you will never be forgotten. Don’t change a thing.
Music from the TV in the next room brought me back to reality. I opened my laptop to reply to the woman from Australia, “I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s behavior. I know serving Jesus can be hard, but it’s a gift that we can only appreciate when we know we don’t deserve it. And thank you for reminding me I’m never alone…”
We think of a gift as a skill or talent, but God can use anything for good. Do you have qualities or habits people judge as different? What are they? How can you use your unique personality to serve Jesus and love others?