The ministry of John the Baptist continues to fascinate, intrigue, and inspire me.  He played such a vital role in the unfolding of God’s plan to redeem mankind from sin.  John was the Forerunner who prepared the way of the Lord, cultivating hearts and minds for the ministry and message of the Messiah.  His was the voice who cried out in the wilderness and heralded the coming of the Lamb of God.  Even though John wasn’t “the Light” (John 1:8), he was definitely “a light.”  Jesus said of him, “He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light,” (John 5:35).  John was a lamp in the same way that we are to be “lights” in this world (Matt. 5:14-16).  We, like John, reflect and bear witness to Jesus, the true “Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).

Because of the way the Gospels summarize John’s preaching, one might get the false impression that he merely walked around and repeatedly shouted “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”; sort of like the modern-day-prophet-wanna-be who stands on the urban street corner holding a sign which reads, “The end is near!”  But, John got very specific about repentance and what the call of the Kingdom meant for people’s lives.  He was a practical preacher, a relevant revealer, not just some earthy proclaimer of propositional platitudes.

Luke 3:10-14 provides a beautiful account of how John explained to his hearers the implications of repentance and how letting God’s Kingdom rule in their hearts would affect their lives and change their behavior.  “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”  Some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”  And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”  Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?”  And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”  It was the spiritual specificity of his message of repentance that got John into so much trouble with Herod and Herodias.

John didn’t make the message applicable to people’s lives, he simply drew their attention to just how powerfully and personally relevant it already was.  As Haddon Robinson wrote, “We don’t ‘make the Bible relevant’; we show its relevance.”  

John the Relevant; I like it!