You indeed know we have John the Baptists in today’s world. There may be a need for more – but a handful can do more than a multitude. A John the Baptist exists in our neighborhood, in our communities and in countries. They exist – in different forms and sizes. They stand before the powerful and mighty. John the Baptists of our times may not wear the ascetic clothes and live away from the happening places.
Who was a John the Baptist in the Bible?
Simple answer. John the Baptist was a forerunner – one who prepared the way for Jesus. He is not the lead actor in salvation history. But he is a pivotal supporter to usher the new kingdom.
We have people among us, who may not take the lead, or the limelight, but their voices make good things happen. Before the arrival of goodness, John the Baptists of our times pay the price. It is worth it. They give in all – time, energy, and resources to pursue goodness, seek justice and promote mercy.
Whom did John the Baptist stand against?
John the Baptist stood against the powerful and mighty of his time. Luke 3:1-6 reveals that John the Baptist stood against political and religious leaders. Their names are familiar to Christians. Pontius Pilate and Herod were political heads with the power to kill even without reason. And Annas and Caiaphas represent the religious establishment with the authority to pronounce judgment and execute sanctions. These four men, Pilate, Herod, Annas, and Caiaphas, play a significant role in Jesus’ crucifixion.
Even now, the political leadership and the religious authorities are popular. People know them, fear them, even though they are elected and ordained to serve people. People are afraid to stand against the injustice and unethical practices of the political and religious authorities. The fear is more due to the possible vindictiveness, revenge, and harassment toward those who speak up against illegal and immoral actions towards the vulnerable in the community.
John the Baptist of Today stands against such influential political and religious figures. They come in all shapes and sizes – they even look unassuming. But their voices – a call for justice and restoration send tremors to the mighty establishment. They are the ones who clear the way for good things to happen, stop evil from having its way and call on the corrupt to change their behaviors.
The voices of the John the Baptist of today, like in Jesus’ time, are suppressed, shunned and silenced as these voices seek to benefit the interest of the weak, voiceless, and vulnerable.
When does John the Baptist of Today start to be one?
According to the Biblical text, John the Baptist started his activity in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ceasar. Why it is important to note the number? It was probably a jubilee year. Many would not know this. The Biblical Jubilee year mandates debts to be cancelled, land returned to the original owner and people freed from servitude. It is possible that even Jesus began his ministry in a jubilee year.
John the Baptist of Today is on a mission to restore the heritage lost due to unjust laws and powerful friendly policies. John the Baptist of Today wants people to enjoy the freedom granted by law and mandate by human rights. They want people to move towards sustainable development of the world’s resources – what Pope Francis calls a common home.
But seriously, when did John the Baptist start?
The Word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness – a dry land. The emphasis is on the Word of God that came to John. That is why he would be a great prophet.
The word of God came during a time Emperor Tiberius, who was the most powerful man in the known world of the time. The Word of God did not come to the mighty in authority in the epic centre of power.
The Word of God comes to unlikely people in unlikely places and unlikely times. They are the John the Baptist of today, the unlikely ones – who set out to make the only difference the world needs. God chose Mary, a young unmarried girl from a village. The John the Baptist of Today is chosen for a task beyond their self needs – for a task greater than one person can accomplish.
The John the Baptist of Today is guided with an inner calling. It is difficult to explain their commitment. They serve humanity, even without worrying about their future. They may pop up from nowhere – talk on stage with a passion.
John the Baptist of Today is rooted in God, faithful to the initial voice, and committed till the finish line and beyond. Others can be wolves, sound like they care – but will deceive and devour others. Beware of fake John the Baptist of Today.
How will you come to know who a Fake John the Baptist of Today?
Look at their actions! People, even the powerful, listen to them. John was in the wilderness. People had to travel to an uncomfortable area to listen to him – even the powerful or send their spies to listen to the voice of a prophet.
John the Baptist of Today are tested, tempted, and tempered. They humbly overcome their weakness, not hide these shortcomings. John the Baptist of Today are honest, transparent and uplifting others.
John the Baptist of Today offers an alternative solution – freedom from the clutches of pessimism and paralyzes. John the Baptist in Jesus’ time offered baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. It is important to understand what it means.
Repentance for the remission of sins? Yes, you have heard it before. Jews were families with repentance of sins – meaning forgiveness of sins. What they were not used to was the remission of sins.
John the Baptist of Today also speaks of a familiar language. But stay open toward the unfamiliar strategies.
John the Baptist customized repentance. He told the haves to share with the have-nots. John the Baptist told tax-collectors and soldiers to deal honestly with people and not use their power in abusive ways (Luke 3:13-14).
John the Baptist of Today calls for metanoia – a change of heart to move in a new direction turning from a world of addictions to Godly affections. The reward for repentance is the remission of sins – not just forgiveness but a release from the grip of sin – freedom from the compulsions, addictions and habits that destroy us.
John the Baptist of Today is calling us towards such repentance, without which we are heading towards disaster, destruction and doom.
John the Baptist of Today offers hope that the possibility of justice and mercy exist in unfathomable ways – amending our habits to set things straight – to prepare the receive God.
All of us need a John the Baptist of Today with the hope that “the crooked will become straight” (Luke 3:5).
About the Author
Feroz Fernandes, a Catholic Missionary, identifies himself as an Uncommon Priest. Father Feroz loves adventure in the apostolate. Check out his debut book The Uncommon Priest: Incredible Stories You Never Read on amazon. And also, the YouTube Channel: Feroz Fernandes promotes a better understanding of scripture.