This is a serialised version of a sermon preached as John the Baptist. Perhaps consider it a kind of ‘true confessions’ of that first eye-witness of the Lord.
I met Jesus the other day.
I guess one day that might be a claim to fame. But I have to say, it was kind of odd. I mean … it’s Jesus — Jesus bar Joseph. Little cousin Jesus.
He’s my cousin, did you know? Twice removed. My mum and his mum were close before I was born, but his family moved away to Egypt for a couple of years and now they live back over in Nazareth in Galilee and. You know how it goes!
In fact, I reckon one of the last times we were together was that Passover, back when we were boys. I suppose pretty much every family has one of those Passovers! But this was something different! I’ve got to tell you…
The whole family had come up to Jerusalem for Passover. It had been a really special time. Everyone had partied hard, celebrating God’s deliverance of us in the exodus. And before you knew it we were waving good-bye to Mary and Joseph and a whole crowd of pilgrims. We’d headed back home, dad disappeared out the back to have a snooze while mum and I started doing some tidying up…
But the next day, just when we thought things would get back to normal, Mary and Joseph appeared. Banging on the front door. They looked frantic. They’d left the group to travel back. And they wanted to know if we’d seen Jesus?
Apparently Mary thought he was with Joseph and Joseph thought he was with the other kids. So they only started to get worried when he didn’t show up for breakfast.
(He turned up eventually, of course. He was actually in the temple talking with the rabbis — would you believe it!? But the panic and worry on Mary and Joseph’s faces. Now that was something. I know he’s their firstborn son and all. But they obviously thought he was quite something — they were killing themselves with worry.)
It was a Passover to remember alright. That last time I saw him.
So, anyway… There I am, waist deep in the Jordan. I’ve got my soggy camel-hair shirt tucked into my belt. And it’s itchy at the best of times! The crowds up on the river bank are as thick as the flies swarming around my head.
And in amongst the crowd, there’s Jesus! I hardly even recognised him at first. He’s so unremarkable: Late twenties. Medium build. Not short (but not tall either). Broad shoulders. Of middle Eastern appearance. He had the look of a tradie. Rough hands. Sunburn. Not a plumber. A mechanic maybe? A cabinet-maker? Pretty ordinary all up. I even reckon I spotted some prominent nasal hair!
Worse, he arrived with that mob of Galilean hicks! Imagine a bus-load of Westies rolling up at the one of the Eastern beaches in the middle of summer. Over-dressed. All bling-ed up like you wouldn’t believe. Whooping and carrying on like they hadn’t seen water for a decade…
I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that much. He does live in Nazareth after all. But that grating Galilean drawl. It’s too much!
It really was a bit of a bolt out of the blue when God’s Spirit swooped down and settled on him. He wasn’t what I was expecting at all…