I wonder sometimes what John the Baptist looked like. Surely he must have had a full beard and a bit of a wild, untameable look in his eyes. He lived in the wilderness, after all. Matthew says he ate honey and wild locusts. Where did the honey come from? The local grocery store? I doubt it. He must have had to gather it himself, risking the stings of angry bees in order to do so. And the locusts. Where did they come from? Did he eat them raw as he caught them? Or did he roast them over an open fire first, heating them until they made a resounding "pop", before crunching them in his teeth? Was there a locsut leg hanging out of the corner of his mouth as he preached?
"Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!"
Matthew says that Jerusalem and all of Judea were going out to him. He wasn't coming to them, they were going out to meet him on his turf. And when they got there, they were meeting quite a man.
I'm glad I wasn't a Pharisee back then. "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come!" He warned them that they'd better make certain they brought forth fruit in keeping with their repentance. And if they didn't? "The axe is already laid to the root of the trees, every tree, therefore, that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
Then he tells them that Jesus is on his way. "He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire", John says. He tells them in no uncertain terms that "his winnowing fork is in his hand and he will thoroughly clean his threshing floor." Make no mistake about it, when Jesus got there, those Pharisees and Saducees would be toast, because He was going to "gather his wheat into the barn and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Unquenchable fire, no less.
Then Jesus arrived.
That what the gospel says. Simply. "Then Jesus arrived." No fanfare, no hoop-de-doo, just, "then Jesus arrived."
I wonder how John felt after heralding his way with harsh warnings and looming threats when finally Jesus stood in front of him and with kindness in his eyes said simply, "John, baptize me."
I imagine poor John was blown away.
It happens to me all the time. I think I have God all figured out. I know how he should act and what he is about to do in my life. How he's going to fix things for me and iron things out for me.
But he almost always surprises me. When he arrives, he usually comes in the way that I would least expect. In ways that blow me away. In ways that sometimes are hard to see are really Him until sometime after the fact, when my hindsight becomes 20/20.
I like that about Jesus. I like it alot.