Thursday, December 10, 2009

Untamed and Unbridled: John and Jesus Luke 3:7-18

John the Baptist was never tamed. He was never bridled. He was locked up in a dungeon and eventually beheaded; but he didn't stop speaking the truth while he still had breath. John told the world the Good News: God's kingdom is coming. He told everyone within earshot that it it's time right now to repent and be baptized. John spoke this word boldly to anyone who could listen.

John was created by God on purpose and he came preaching a message that was so radical and so bold that people came out to the wilderness near the river Jordan to hear it. They came from Jerusalem and all over Judea to hear John's bold unrestrained message. It was a message that wasn't meant for somebody else or some other people. It was a message that was meant for the nation of Israel. And it rung in their ears so boldly they couldn't stop listening.

John spoke so boldly to them, the NRSV and NIV said he addressed the people who came out to be baptized by him in Luke 3:7, as "You brood of Vipers" literally calling them the γεννήματα spawn or offspring of ἐχιδνω̂ν poisonous snakes. John understood that God was up to something big. He knew that Kingdom was coming and that the time had come to get ready.

John the Baptist was a dangerous radical. John was the most unrestrained man of his time in all Israel until one even more dangerous came along. Matthew says he made his home out in the desert away from all the constraints of civilization; and then another man came after John who was all the more even more radical and disquieting. And that man would also die because he declared the coming of God's kingdom boldly and radically.

This past week I've been reading Wild at Heart by John Eldridge and seeing in John a true man of God who was really wild and free as God had intended. Eldridge makes a pretty good case in the first chapter that men have been contained and constrained by our civilization and that was never God's design or plan. Adam, Eldridge says was created out in the wilderness, but Eve was created in the Garden.[1] Eldridge even points to Jesus and John the Baptist being lead by the Spirit out to the wilderness.[2]

Who do you imagine as a faithful man of God?

Do you imagine a nice guy, a real push over, a pussy cat or do you imagine someone dangerous an untamed: someone like John. But if your part of my generation of TV watchers you've seen Christian men often portrayed as a sort of Ned Flanders. Nice and restrained.

John wasn't nice or restrained. John was passionate and faithful. He was boldly challenging his own people and all of us today. Repent, a great one is coming. Repent John says, another great radical will follow John.

[1]John Eldredge Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul Thomas Nelson (2006), page 8-9

[2]Ibid page 6


Nancy Marshall said...

Good words and great insight into this passage.
Thank you

walk2write said...

You have hit the proverbial nail on the head for me as to why many passionately spiritual people have become disillusioned by the thoroughly domestic attitude of the Church. The Bride of Christ has come to resemble June Cleaver, a high-heeled, pearl-adorned pushover for the world's version of prosperity. Thank you for not glossing over this passage.