The Household (Pt. 2)

John was from Judea and his parents worked in Jerusalem but Jesus was from Nazareth, with good weather, it was at least a five day walk, and we know Mary & Joseph went to Jerusalem every year at least onceLuke 2:41  The biological relationship between John & Jesus as cousins happened to be of no concern or implication upon the gospel or ministry of Christ, or else it would have been recorded. Jesus called him John the ImmersionistLuk 7:33 not John my cousin. They obviously knew “of” each other, but John makes it obvious that they didn’t know each other well, until he saw a “dove” descend upon someone whom he was to immerseJohn 1:32-33  John was fearless in proclaiming his message, and called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers.” This was in reference to the fact that they were making baptism a mere ritual but their lives were just as corrupt as ever – with no signs of true repentance. He challenged people to be all they could be. He must have made quite an impression because “all” of Jerusalem went out to him in order to be baptized. Most Jews were able to recognize him as being a prophet even though there had been no prophets for almost 400 years, without him working one miracle! John’s basic message was REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM IS NEARMat.3:2  so change your mind and change your ways because a big change is coming, ready or not! According to Mark, Jesus began his ministry after John had been imprisoned, so while Jesus was 40 days in the wilderness a great travesty of justice struck John. Josephus, the historian says that John was held in a cell at the castle of Machaerus, the impenetrable fortress located in Perea, east of the Dead Sea. We know John was arrested by Herod for denouncing his marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias. When John heard of the miraculous signs Jesus was doing, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus whether he was the One that should comeLuk 7:19-28 or if they should “wait for another.” Scholars have various thoughts on the nature of this question. In Luke’s gospel, it provides the opening for one of several questions relating to Jesus’ identity. The question allows Jesus the opportunity to pay tribute to John, calling him “more than a prophet”Mat.11:9  so establishing and confirming his prophetic role. He was “more than a prophet” because he was the forerunner of the Messiah (Christ), who came in the spirit of Elijah. In the meantime, while John was in prison, Herod “feared him and protected” him because he knew John was a righteous man. He even liked to “listen” to him. But Herodias wanted to kill him, no doubt in order to silence his denunciation of her marriage to Herod and to solidify her position as Herod’s legal wife. Her opportunity came the day Herod offered to give her daughter Salome, “anything you want” as a thank you for her seductive dance at his birthday party. Herodias coached her daughter into asking for the head of John; the daughter came up with the idea of having it delivered on a platter. Despite Herod’s “great distress,” he had to save face with his dinner guests and ordered it done. John’s disciples took his body for burial. This is in contrast to Jesus’ disciples who all ran away when he was killed. But this was not the end of Herod’s nightmare regarding John. Later on, he feared that Jesus was the reincarnation of John. Jesus also made reference to John’s authority in his conflicts with the temple priests. Josephus adds that Herod’s forces were eventually defeated by his ex-wife’s father. The people saw it as punishment for killing John and a sign of God’s displeasure. It would have been a case of God’s providential justice! John lived his beliefs and died for them as well. In the family of Christ, there should always be a member who can boldly point people to Jesus and beg them for repentance, if not, then start training someone to do it! John teaches us that no matter how effective, bold and successful any single individual is in the family of Christ, we are all equal in The Father’s eyesMat.11:11

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