The older I get, the more I admire John the Baptist.
He, like Mary and a few other people in the Bible, are all the more remarkable for the fact that they at times achieved Jesus-like moments of spiritual realization, while being fully human themselves.
And yet their moments of humanity, where they clearly can’t keep up with Jesus, make them all the more endearing.
Stop for a moment and consider this incident with John in our gospel today.
This is the culmination of his ministry—proclaiming to the world that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
He went through all the years in the desert, years one assumes were necessary to understand the message he was to deliver.
Then he baptized Jesus—what a pinnacle of joy! He has prepared the way for the Lord, and now announces him to the world.
But then it’s all over in the space of a few seconds.
“The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.”
Just like that, end of story.
John is no longer in the picture.
His disciples have just abandoned him to follow Jesus.
John’s ministry is over in the space of ten seconds, in one conversation.
John is no longer important.
He’s no longer necessary.
He has lost his job, his friends, and his purpose.
And it’s only downhill from there. He’ll be in jail before long.
What kind of reward is that for his faithfulness?
But this is what makes John the Baptist so remarkable, and so worthy of our admiration and emulation.
This is what led Jesus to say, “Among those born of women, not one is greater than John.”
John, somehow, by virtue of some divine experience, was able to let everything go so that Jesus’ mission was accomplished.
John let go everything and everyone he loved, giving them all freely to Jesus, leaving him with nothing.
How did he do it? Continue reading