Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel

1 IN THOSE DAYS    - Matthew 3

It may not be appropriate to comment on his hair. But look at it. Even characteristically neat iconography cannot contain the man. He is wild.

You are looking at St. John the Baptist by Meister von Gracanica, circa 1235. He (John) looks ready. He looks fired up. He looks like he could care less what I think of him, even daring me to further opine.

This is a portrait and these are the characters that cause me to fall in love with the Scriptures all over again. And so I say to myself, self: Let him be.

When he gets to the fire and brimstone stuff, hang tight (v.10). When he reaches for a locust at snack time, resist the urge to make that face (v.4). When he paces in his jail cell wondering what the heck Jesus is up to—that comes next week—allow him that space to anxiously wonder if he has gotten it wrong.

John is oozing the kind of discipleship that we might call “all or nothing”. He has gone off the grid and has no problem telling the polished religious types that their status was no good out there (v.9). It was the wilderness, after all. Get in line, fellas.

I have yet to put my toe in the Jordan River but when I do, I imagine I will break into a grin or into a bout of laughter. I will see the man making his splash. I will shake my head and look to God with appreciation for those who have played their part, however different from mine.

“You brood of vipers,” he was entirely comfortable hissing. [I doubt he hissed it, but the fact that he said it is comparably bold.] He wants to know why they bothered coming out for the service. Their faces had to have been burning.

Remember, though, that this is the baby boy whom Elizabeth and Zechariah believed they would never have. This is the one who once leapt in his mother’s womb as though he could barely stand the holiness of it all. He baptized people; which is to suggest that his ministry included tender moments. And he baptized Jesus. Maybe give a little bit to his many dimensions. Give the wild man his due.

UncategorizedRachel May