by Kimberley Pfeiffer
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I baptise you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming … He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16).
I have always found John the Baptist to be a peculiar character in the Bible. His role as a forerunner to Christ, his off-beat style, unusual diet, and abrupt manner with people, rebuking people by calling them a ‘brood of vipers’. But for his every oddity, he draws me in. I don’t doubt that his peculiarities had a way of making his message stand out.
He brought a baptism of repentance, stirring people’s spirit so that they were ready to receive Christ. Part of that included reminding people to seek contentment. He urged people to consider the greed in their hearts and not strive after what does not belong to them. It was likely that this message upset King Herod and landed John in prison. For King Herod had another man’s wife, and he had no intention of returning her.
Asking people to seek contentment can be tough for many in our church and in the world today. It seems the world has commodified so much in our lives that it is as though there is a proverbial social media thread that exists to brand and sell back to us all the images of the life that we think we want. It is filled with people and things that all appear to be exactly what we want, but perhaps it is just a little too good to be true. Christians are humans, too, and can be drawn in by the messages of the world. We know deep down that striving after worldly ideals won’t satisfy but will only make us hungry for more.
So, what does repentance have to do with Jesus? As we wake up and realise that there are things that have a hold on us and begin to turn away from them, we realise we don’t really know what we want or need. Repentance creates room for us to shift our focus from the things of the world to something else. That something else is God, and we find God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Finally, it is essential to remember that John the Baptist’s message didn’t end with repentance. He always pointed to the one mightier than he, Christ our Saviour and Lord, in whom we have everything we need now and for eternity.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending John the Baptist to show us that repentance prepares the way for Christ to enter our hearts. Fill us with all that we need in Christ Jesus. Amen.