John the Baptist, miracle baby, prophet of Yahweh, and forerunner of Yahshua burst onto the scene in Israel with passion and power. What a dramatic figure he must have made in the wilderness of Judaea, in his odd clothes, and preaching his searching, challenging message of repentance. The Jews had seen nothing like this in more than 400 years.
John and Yahshua were cousins, and their relationship consistently fascinates me. For instance, John apparently didn’t know who Yahshua was. As his cousin approached one day, the Spirit of Yahweh anointed John and he cried, “Behold, the Lamb of [Yahweh], who takes away the sin of the world!” [John 1:29] We know this was a revelation of the Spirit because John went on to explain that here was the person he had been speaking about although ‘I myself did not know him…’ [John 1:30-34]. Isn’t that incredible? I wonder how he felt that night as he prepared for sleep. Was he stunned, elated, awed? How did he feel to understand that he had been sent to prepare the way for his cousin?
The next time we hear about John, Yahshua’s ministry is beginning to grow, and he makes that poignant remark, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30]. Did he imagine just how much! Not long afterwards, Herod arrested John and had him imprisoned. [Matthew 14:3-5] How long he languished in prison we aren’t told, but that it was a dark place for John we can assume by the fact that he began to have anxious doubts about his ministry; had he fulfilled the task he had been sent to do. He sent his disciples to Yahshua to ask Him if He really was the expected Messiah or not. [see Matthew 11:2] Yahshua didn’t berate his cousin for unbelief, He simply told the disciples to report what they had seen, [Matthew 11:4-5] knowing John would recognise the works of a Messianic anointing, [Isaiah 61:1-2] and be comforted.
How well Yahshua understands our humanity! He knows about the testing of faith, understands about dark places, and will never be annoyed. He will only reach out - the moment we turn to Him - to help, comfort and heal in whatever way speaks to us best.
Photo by bstad