“At my next party I will serve crickets dripping with honey in lovely wooden bowls that I carved the night before with my own two hands. Then … then … I will really have made it like John the Baptist.”
Said no one ever.
I don’t think anyone’s goal in life is really to live like John the Baptist. Maybe we aim to be a bit more like the Apostle Paul, writer of many letters containing wild amounts of Holy-Spirit- breathed truth, or maybe we think of Esther and her bravery while shaking in her boots before her husband-king and embracing her “such a time as this” in Esther 4:14. But really, have you ever heard anyone say,
“John the Baptist, he’s my guy!”
Maybe it was the camel’s hair and the weird diet.
See Matthew 3:4-6 to find out more about that:
Maybe it was all the repentance talk or the connection to baptism, a baptism that wasn’t quite as grace-filled as the baptism Jesus gives to His Church after His resurrection, the one we know now. John’s baptism was good. Jesus Himself is baptized by John, but I think we could also classify it as confusing, and a little mysterious.
You can read more about John’s baptism a little later in Matthew 3:11-17.
Or maybe it’s because none of us deep down want to be that guy … the guy preparing for the other much cooler guy to come. It is against our nature, albeit sinful nature, to be the person whose only real purpose is to prepare a party for someone else. As much as we like to encourage, we like to think of ourselves as part of a team, no teammate less than another teammate.
This sense of equality is important to us. And that’s a good thing. Here’s something to maybe help us understand equality and throwing the party for that other guy a little bit deeper:
John the Baptist is that awesome guy who came before Jesus … right before Jesus.
Jesus: He changes everything.
Jesus is the head. At the end of the day, it’s important to understand that all we do in this life, with all we are, is prepare a party for Him. That’s our only job. Matthew introduces us to John by saying this about him in Matthew 3:1-3:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”
Laying down a road for Jesus, so others can hear about Jesus, so others can find the right point on the GPS and come to the party … that’s what life is all about. Without it, there really is no party — it’s only crickets and gooey hands.
On the other hand, John is the man who came right before Jesus. We come after Jesus.
Jesus turns what we think we need to do on its head. Jesus comes to make us sons, to give us this sense of equality we have, so we never feel left out or less than, while we still understand that He is the heir to the throne, the rightful elder brother, the Mightiest, the Best, Savior and King.
Our lives are a paradoxical reality: both party throwers and party receivers. We lay down the road for Jesus, but Jesus laid down that road for us. He announces to our hearts and our minds that the feast is ready, come and eat. He also puts invitations in our hands to go and travel some roads, machete down some paths in the dark wilderness of Hope, and make some straight paths from Jesus straight to someone’s soul.
Life knowing Jesus, life after Jesus … that’s where the party’s at.
Thanks for inviting us to the party, Lord.
May we always have invitations ready on our roads.
Whether we have crickets and honey at the party … now, that’s a conversation for another day.
PS – You can also read about John the Baptist preparing the road for Jesus in John 1:19-34. I didn’t include this segment of Scripture to save some confusion with all the Johns.
Up Next: Trying to Find a Reason to Celebrate
In the Meantime: Did you catch the video for this last week of study? It’s full of celebration!