Third Wednesday of Advent
Reading: Grab your bible and read Mark 9:9-13
John the Baptizer was - and is - a mysterious figure. When he was challenged about who he was, he refused to say anything other than that he was the voice in the wilderness. He denied that he was Elijah returned (John 1:21), and yet Jesus here is clearly referring to John when he says that Elijah has come. Perhaps Lukeʼs Gospel helps us when, announcing Johnʼs birth, the angel tells Zechariah that he will have the “spirit and power” of Elijah (Luke 1:17). This is not a reincarnation of the prophet, but rather a manifestation of a ministry that is akin to the Old Testament messengers of God. But, in spite of this, the people failed to recognize Godʼs calling and anointing on John, and he was persecuted and executed like many prophets before him.
In spite of all this, John was the first to acknowledge that he was unimportant in himself. It was his message that counted, and the One who would come after him. And he was willing to give his life to get people ready for the Coming One, and to ensure that when Jesus came, the people would be able to receive the life he offered them. For John it was all about the message, and all about Jesus. Who John himself was, was completely beside the point. What a challenging example he sets for those of us who now seek to follow Jesus and participate in Godʼs reign.
In what ways does John challenge and inspire you? In what ways does his willingness to sacrifice himself frighten and/or encourage you? What can you do today to make Jesus and his message more visible and important in your life?
I like things to be about me. I am very aware of my needs and desires, my longings and dreams. I like to think that things are working out for my benefit and that my faith in you is a guarantee of a full, comfortable life. But, then I am faced with people like John, and I realize that itʼs not about me. Yes, you love me and seek what is best for me. Yes, you promise me abundant life. But, that life is found not by indulging my wants, but by laying my life down for the sake of your reign. Help me to learn, O God, that my greatest joy, my most meaningful life, is found when I stop making it about me, and start making it all about you. Amen.