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When we think of Bible characters to imitate, we may think of Paul or Dorcas before thinking of John the Baptist. After all, what did John the Baptist accomplish? His pulpit was the Jordan wilderness, and he baptized repentant sinners in a muddy river. True, all Jerusalem and Judea went out to hear him, and Jesus called John the ‘Elias’ who was to come. But John did not even perform miracles. In the end, by preaching a few simple words, John found imprisonment through a damsel’s unprincipled dance, and met his death – a terrible end.

Since we have come to the end of his life so quickly, let’s go back, let’s think about John’s life a little more. John did not have a chequered past to make his sermons interesting, (something like, ‘I once was a notorious bandit, but I turned my life around’). John could have boasted that his father was a priest, or that his mother was of the daughters of Aaron. However, we have no record he did so. In fact, John did not talk about himself much at all. Instead, he pointed to Christ, “whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose”. “Behold,” he said, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He must increase, but I must decrease”. He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah as he preached, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his path straight.” That is why he preached repentance, so that when Christ began to preach, many would be prepared to accept the message, and find eternal life. As we read more about John the Baptist, we see that Christ said of him, “Verily, I say unto you, among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist”. With these words in mind, let us consider two things about John the Baptist:

1| He never exalted himself – he spoke of Christ.
| Because of his ministry, many more souls will be saved.

Don’t these things mean he was great? Through the ages, we seem to once more hear that voice from the Judean wilderness – a voice raised in urgency. “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then, near the man in camel’s hair, we see Simeon and Anna, their faces uplifted in praise at the coming of the Messiah. Behind them are Moses and Noah and Enoch. Voices swell in chorus, “Worthy the Lamb!” No longer does John the Baptist cry his message alone. In this scene, he is one of many of those who foresaw the Messiah. In front of John we see ranged the faithful through the ages. We see men and women who faced great temptation and won. By victory, they freed themselves to proclaim the greatness of Christ. With John the Baptist, they raise their voices, “Worthy the Lamb!” As the platter laden executioner dragged open John’s cell door, he faced a man of conviction and courage, a great man. I can imagine that from the man clad in camel hair may have come the words, eagerly spoken, “He has come! Have you seen Him?” Today, when platter bearing circumstances occur, or even when friends and neighbours with all good intent confront us, do they find us with shining eyes saying, “He has come! He will return. Do you know Him?” Like John, we can thus be one of many raising our voices in praise of the lamb. Did our life and actions point men to Christ? Did our words express who we are? The real us can never be hidden. (Matt.12:34)

Bro Gaius Egwu (Ohafia, Nigeria)

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