Today I am missing John the Baptist.
He was so fun to watch. Looked funny, talked funny, and made me smile. He was so entertaining that people would walk all the way from Jerusalem to hear him along the Jordan. The "big deals" of Jerusalem would come out and he'd call them funny things. He didn't care about what they'd say - brood of vipers might have been my favorite.
But what he had to say wasn't meant to be funny. He was serious - dead serious. He warned us that someone was coming after him - someone who would liberate us from our manna hoarding. He would liberate Israel from oppression.
He was so specific. Bearing good fruit is simple. Dare I say, easy - if you have too many clothes, share with those who don't have enough. If you've got extra food, give some to someone who doesn't have any. If you are a soldier (or person in authority) quit using that authority to rob from folks. Specific.
I miss John the Baptist because he knew Jesus was coming. He knew what Jesus had planned. Now I'm on my way to Jerusalem with Jesus and I just don't know...
I don't know if I can follow Jesus all the way to Jerusalem. That is where the "important" people are. That's where the power is (outside of Rome). That is where people find God (in the Temple).
But with John the Baptist? Out along the water's edge in the wilderness? He saw things differently. We committed to setting our lives straight out there by that water. I can't go back to the wilderness - Jesus has already been there. I can't go back to Galilee - those good country folk are Jesus' people. I have to go to Jerusalem with Jesus.
If John the Baptist were with me, maybe I could do it. He was crazy enough to do anything. He might not have been "important" but he sure did love God. Jesus... he wants to confront people where they are. John may have been crazy looking, but Jesus is nuts. He doesn't fight. He doesn't run. He has this third way of affirming the oppressed and the oppressor. His justice will set us right - I just don't know if I can stand up to those who I need to stand up to.
I bet he's doing it for his cousin. I bet he's doing it for me. I bet he's doing it for you. John gave his life for this man - hopefully I can do the same.