When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”
‘I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’ (And all the people who heard this, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
What sort of holidays do you like? Do you enjoy spending time doing as little as possible, or do you like to fill your time with new experiences? Do you plan your holidays around sun and sand, or around the visiting of famous places and sights? Or, do you like a subtle blend of the two, mixing complete relaxation with a level of casual tourism that isn’t too taxing and yet offers some variety and stimulation? However you respond to my initial question, let me ask this: what is it that you hope to get out of each holiday you take?
In these modern, technologically-driven times, many of us travel the world. Many are no longer bound by the distance we can walk and the demands of surviving in a hand-to-mouth, moment-by-moment way. We can now plan to travel for the sheer fun of it. We can have some choice over the experiences with which we season our daily routines. We can browse the brochures and the internet to whet our appetites as we contemplate the next time we can switch off. But, how do we make those choices … and why?
In today’s reading Jesus asks: What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? He asks that question of the crowds who rushed to see John the Baptist when he was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness. Those crowds would have made that journey in response to eye-witness statements and rumour. There was no way in which they could have prepared themselves for what they were to find when they finally came into John’s presence. In a similar way, we are often disappointed or surprised by the reality of some famous landmark … it being so much smaller than we expected!
Jesus is asking the crowds why they made the journey; he is also asking them what difference they allowed it to make in their lives. Furthermore, Jesus is asking us the same question. He is not asking about the journeys we make for our leisure and refreshment, rather he is asking about our journeys of faith.
We often travel into the metaphorical wilderness in an attempt to find meaning and purpose in our lives. As we travel we encounter our loving Lord and Saviour. Very often we meet him in unexpected places. Let us pray that we might always be ready for those encounters, whenever and wherever they may come, and let us pray that we might feel the warmth and the joy of experiencing anew his love for us, as we strive to share that love with others.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 4:42 — 4.3MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | More