John 1: 6-8, 19-28
John calls the people of Israel to prepare the way of the Lord. In Jerusalem religious leaders are disturbed by rumours and speculation. Who is this stranger? A priest by birth but he dresses like Elijah and baptises into new life through the forgiveness of sins.
Investigators are sent little knowing that they will soon be investigating an even more controversial figure causing a stir in Jerusalem.
Their questioning is abrupt and John’s replies are succinct: no, he’s not the Messiah, Elijah or a prophet. So who is he?
He is his message and he heralds the dawning of a new day with an exhortation to be prepared but it seems the people who most need to hear the message aren’t listening. They’re too busy preserving their own authority and the status quo. The Pharisees will reject John’s message just as they will reject that of the one who is greater by far than John.
In the promise and hope of Advent are shadows of the future: angry confrontations and a refusal to respond to the voice of one sent by God.
As we stand in Bethany, across the Jordan, we can go forward into the water of new life and await the arrival of the Messiah or we can go back to the safety of familiarity, shaking our heads and denying the Spirit of God this opportunity to break into our lives.
John came to testify to the light that all of us might believe through him.