Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Mind His L'il Fontanel"
submitted by: slowfo

Fontanel....that's the best analogy I can think of to describe this part of my Jesus faith (and if you don't recognize the title quote, run, don't walk to your nearest Blockbuster and rent Raising Arizona). It's a soft spot....not very well protected. John the Baptist is my fontanel. I don't get him mostly because JtB is not a Jesus follower. Literally. And logic tells me that he should have been.

Sure, he publicly introduced Jesus as the Messiah who takes away the sin of the world, baptized Jesus (altho' he felt it more appropriate that Jesus should really be doing the baptizing), saw the dove descend and heard the voice of the Father acknowledging Jesus as His son (and shouldn't that have been enough?!?), but JtB didn't follow. He kept doing his own thing. JtB exclaimed that he must become less and Jesus greater, but we don't see anywhere that JtB ever encouraged his own followers to follow Jesus (Andrew voluntarily chose to leave John and follow Jesus). I can actually stomach that later JtB questions whether Jesus really is the Messiah from prison - prison life might make anyone a little delusional.

But if my entire career had been pointing toward one history-defining moment when the true Master would takeover and live, breathe, and speak the words of the one and only God of the universe to humanity, I think I'd probably drop everything and follow Him, wouldn't you? And I'd for sure tell everyone else to follow Him. Geez, the last thing I want to be is Jesus Christ's competitor on the speaking circuit. Getting Jesus a little peeved with me because my show is pulling viewers from His is not my idea of fun.

My only conclusion I've come to is that John was just another voice preaching repentance - but what kind of repentance did he preach after he kicked off Jesus' ministry? Was it repentance through Jesus? If so, then JtB should have naturally at least suggested (let alone maybe he should have been commanding it) that those who repent should follow Jesus. But I don't see that in the Bible. I've got a pretty good foundation to following Jesus myself....I just have this one, vulnerable soft spot.

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mike said...

hmm. interesting. what makes you say that JtB was not a follower of jesus? is it because he did not literally follow jesus? or is there some other standard you are using? i would be interested in hearing how you define who a follower of jesus is?

mike said...

btw, i don't really give a damn about all this stuff. but i do find it interesting.

slowfo said...

yes, in short, i mean he didn't literally follow jesus and i believe it raises questions. why didn't he follow Him and why didn't he encourage others to do the same?....or maybe he did encourage others to follow Jesus but for some reason it wasn't recorded. if not, why not?

mike said...

well, you and i and anyone not born in the first century have never literally followed jesus either.

i don't know why it would not be recorded. maybe the apostles didn't think it was that important? maybe faith in jesus was about something different than literally following him around.

just because the bible does not explicitly state something does not mean it didn't happen or it does not endorse it.

but then again, the bible is full of all kinds of weird and crazy shit why would anyone take it seriously?

g13 said...

i haven't given the narrative of JTB a ton of thought, but i have often thought of him as a patron saint of those who have had their expectations of salvation upended by God.

i think that JTB's proclamation of repentance was strongly tied to his particular vision of the Messianic prophet. assuming that JTB's messianic expectation was in line with the common vision at the time (restored Jerusalem with political sovereignty, military dominion, etc.) i can see how Jesus' ministry could have confounded him completely. JTB expected the Messiah to bring the fire of judgment, but Christ brought mercy. JTB seemed to assume that he was blazing the path for "the day of the Lord," but Christ instead seemed to be pushing towards something more akin to the year of jubilee.

when i hear Jesus commending JTB's ministry i hear him saying something like "there was none among men greater than JTB," for, confounded as he was, he proclaimed the presence of the God with power and called the people to preparation. "but i tell you that the least of these in the Kingdom are greater than he," for in the end the Kingdom is not shaped, fortunately!, by our expectations but by the unrelenting reconciliation and gracious kenosis (self-giving) of God.

whenever i am seeking clarity upon the way of Jesus and i receive what i appears to be irony instead, i think of JTB.

i hope some of that makes sense.