The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.
If you’ve ever gone to see a show with an “opening act”, you’d know that the sole purpose of the opening performance is to get the people who came to see the headlining performance ready, excited, and in full anticipation of the main attraction. Some folks have made a career out of being the opening act for others. They are so good at what they do that headliners from all around will ask for them to open for them. John the Baptist was the Ultimate Opening Act. He set the stage for the coming of the Jewish Messiah – he set the stage for the Infinite Headliner, Jesus Christ. John didn’t come “gently”, but he got the crowds’ attention and, quite often, got them up into a roar. Thousands were coming to the Show. But, John always knew that he was not the Headliner; nor would he ever be. He was Faithful in preaching the Good News to the people – even paying the ultimate price with his very own head. By the time Jesus arrived to the world stage, the crowds were well-Primed for the King of Kings. And, they also knew from John (and the Old Testament) that the Messiah was coming to “gather His Wheat into His Barn”; but, that He would burn the chaff in an unquenchable fire. John the Baptist shouted about God’s arrival in the flesh of Jesus Christ – as Emmanuel – interpreted as God with us. An astronomical phenomenon in the stars shouted the arrival of the King of the Jews in the little town of Bethlehem. Jesus left the Cross with an earthquake and blood red moon that were witnessed around the world. And, Jesus is coming again on the clouds with the Heavenly Hosts for His Encore Performance. If we are struggling with Faith due to any anger or bitterness in our hearts, it’s absolutely critical that we let go of the negative emotions and forgive those that we need to forgive (including ourselves). If we are struggling with Faith due to ignorance of the scientific facts about God’s existence, then we would have invested the least in the thing in our lives that counts the most. While most of us will often investigate and perform incredible depths of due diligence in most things that we invest in while in this world (e.g. relationships, homes/houses, stocks, exercise, school, careers, etc.), it is often shocking to see how little homework we do on God’s existence. Again, if we look for Him, we will absolutely find Him – He wants us to find Him. So, let’s find Jesus this Christmas Season and let the Lord of Lords change our hearts Eternally. Everything and everyone around us deserve that – and, so do we.