Last Sunday, I started preaching on Luke 7:18-35 asking the question, “How did John the Baptist miss Jesus?”
I have no desire slam John. He was an amazing man of God. But what caused him to ask Jesus if He was the One.
Especially after Jesus raised the dead son in Nain (Luke 7:11-17). The crowd’s response to the raising was virtually quoting Deuteronomy 18:15 where Moses is talking about “the one” to come. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12 makes it clear that Joshua didn’t fit the role of “the one” God would raise up. So this became a Messianic text to the Jewish people in the Second Temple period.)
The people “got it;” why not John?
I think it had to do with his story. Read a description of his preaching in Luke 3. Verses 15-18 sound like quotes of Malachi’s description of the last day, the day of judgement (Mal 3 & 4), especially Malachi 4:1-3.
I think John the Baptist’s exclusive focus on the final day probably caused him to miss the end times aspect of Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus’ end times outlook might be related to the passage in Ezekiel 11:19-20 and 36:25-27. There was a time of freedom, healing, and release from bondage that was involved before the cataclysmic “Day of the Lord.”
Look back at the image in my earlier blog post about A The Story I Tell Every Week. I wonder if John got so focused on the vertical purple cataclysmic end of all things, that he missed the even more radical red line of “living between the times.” To his credit, no one fully foresaw God doing what he did in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
I wonder if we 21st century followers of Jesus fall into the same situation as John. Whether it’s the 1970’s A Thief in the Night, Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth or the recent Left Behind series, I wonder if we focuse so intensely on the “radical end” that we miss the “radical present” of the Kingdom of God busting out all around us.
I’d rather spend my days being used by God to set the captives free than trying to figure out who the antichrist might be! May God continue to help us live firmly “between the times” even as we boldly seek the end of days.
[In the interest of full disclosure, I have only seen the first Left Behind movie and have not read any of the Left Behind books.]