Before I’m A Celebrity’s Bush Tucker Trials there was John the Baptist, eating locusts. (Did you watch David Attenborough, Planet Earth II’s plague of locusts and think, They look tasty!?)
Before TV fashion makeovers, before Gok Wan, or even Trinny & Susannah, there was John the Baptist, wearing camel hair clothes and a leather belt.
Before Escape to the Country, Location, Location, Location, and a million other property shows, John the Baptist, appeared in the desert.
Before political correctness, there was John the Baptist:
… when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
You don’t want to get on the wrong side of John the Baptiser! Like the prophets before him, he shows no fear or favour. You think your impeccable pedigree will save you? Think again! Even rulers show some respect. And Herod himself can’t escape John’s censure: Herod, you may think you’re the boss around here, but that doesn’t give you licence to do as you please. Even you, Herod Antipas, will have to answer to God for the choices you have made, not least that dodgy marriage to your half-brother’s wife!
Such words are not designed to give the prophet an easy life. But then, John never asked for an easy life. Into prison he goes and pays the price for his plain speaking, victim of Herod’s arrogance and pride. What price your life, John?
But then, you never wanted to be popular, did you? You never wanted to be in the spotlight. That place belonged to another – that cousin of yours, the one whose sandals you couldn’t bring yourself to untie.
Jesus is coming. John the Baptiser calls on God’s people to repent, to get ready, to make way for the King, the true King.
In Advent, we consider our lives: are we pointing in the right direction? Have we made the right choices? Are our lives bearing good fruit? Are we prepared to welcome the King when he comes?