I love watching trailers to movies. The purpose of a movie trailer is to give the audience a sneak preview of things to come. Sometimes, the trailers are actually better than the movie, while other times, the movie is worth the hype. John the Baptist was, in essentials, a personal trailer for Jesus’s public ministry.
He got everyone’s attention by offering something they needed, but never had:
“John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.”
The Jews already had the tradition of the mikveh, a cleansing ritual where people would immerse themselves in water to cleanse themselves of their sins. However, John the Baptist was offering this ritual in the River Jordan, outside of the temple. This was probably especially appealing to those who were on the outskirts of society, the ones who didn’t feel worthy to darken the temple doors.
It also helped that John the Baptist stood out in such an unusual way:
“John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey.”
He went to the extremes of living the desert life. He probably reminded people of Moses and Elijah, the prophets who lived out in the desert and ate whatever they could find there. So John already had a lot going as far as getting people’s attention. He advocated repentance and forgiveness and stood out in contrast to the finely dressed Pharisees and Sadducees.
But what was John hyping up? The coming of Jesus.
“And this is what he proclaimed: ‘One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Now that to me sounds like a lot of amazing hype. Many people were already following John the Baptist because he was a radical. So if John the Baptist was worth following, then whomever John was talking about had to be even better!
Pope Francis tweeted “Prophecy is saying that there is something truer, more beautiful, greater, of greater good to which we are all called.” I think John the Baptist can inspire us to follow in his example by bringing Christ to those who feel like they’re on the outside.
While there are those who are openly hostile to Christians, there are just as many people who have been broken by life. The first step in any rehabilitation program is helping the person to admit that they have a problem. We need to meet these people where they are and tell them that they can get a second chance and hopefully lead them to Jesus. My sisters in Christ, trust me when I say that He is worth the hype.
Reflect: How do you spread the good news to those who aren’t Christians?
Have you ever shared Jesus with someone who felt like they were on the outside looking in? What was that experience like?
Act: Reach out to someone who feels like they’re on the outskirts of life. Be a friend to them first. Don’t treat them like a project or a mission. Meet that person where they are.