Chronicled in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; referenced in Acts
I love a radical, and if there ever was a radical for the Lord, it was John the Baptist. The cousin of Jesus was a radical even before he was born, leaping in his mother’s womb when she (Elizabeth) came into contact with her young cousin Mary, who had just conceived (with some assistance from the Holy Spirit) the Son of God.
John became Jesus’ forerunner, preaching a fiery message: “Repent and be baptized! For, the Kingdom of God is at hand!” John preached the imminent coming of the long-prophesied Messiah, that same Messiah whom he “met” in the womb so many years earlier. It’s not that what John preached was such a new concept; the Messiah had been spoken and written about for centuries. It was WHO John was foretelling: Jesus, the “lowly” son of a carpenter, who had come to earth, not in regal pomp and circumstance (as religious leaders were expecting), but in quiet humility. This same Jesus was the owner of the sandal straps John said he was not worthy to unlatch.
John’s was a message fraught with controversy. He was telling the world that their way wasn’t right. John was on the front lines preaching a confrontational word and living what the leaders of the day would characterize as an alternative lifestyle, to say the least. After all, he isolated himself in the desert, was wooly-haired, and ate a steady diet of locusts and wild honey. He probably looked like a crazy man to his detractors.
John certainly made enemies with his message of repentance. John took a great deal of heat for this preaching and his willingness to confront sin. To call people out and suggest change would mean that folks of the day were in need of salvation, that they were living sinful lives. When you confront sin, you will face persecution. There is no way around it. John the Baptist knew this full well. That is what ultimately cost John his life.
True to his nature, John confronted King Herod about his incestuous marriage. This led to John’s imprisonment and beheading. John was killed doing what he was put on earth to do. It was a seemingly bitter ending to a truly amazing life. What is the message here? Well, it’s twofold:
1. Be obedient, even when it causes hardship. Trials will come as a result of you following the will of God. It’s a guarantee. However, there is a silver lining.
2. Obedience will bring a blessing. John was an unorthodox man with an unorthodox approach. However, he ushered in the coming of Jesus, even baptizing the Son of God and witnessing the Holy Spirit descend upon Him. What an honor!
So, how can we triumph in the midst of trial? Never let adversity cause us to back up from being obedient to God!