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Just because you rail against what is wrong doesn't mean you know what is right!
John the Baptist Syndrome
He gave them this parable. "What do you
think? What man of you, having a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders
away, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go in search
after the one that wandered away, until he finds it? Upon finding, he
puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. After coming home, he calls
together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me,
for I have found my sheep that strayed.' I tell you, that there is
thus more joy in the heavens over one repenting sinner than over
ninety‑nine righteous* who have no need of repentance. So it is not the
will in the estimation of your Father in the heavens that one of these
little ones should die."
Klucharev found "that the brain releases more of the reward
chemical dopamine when we fall in line with the group consensus"
(Neuron, vol 61, p. 140)” [Robson]. Robson,
David, "How to control your herd of humans", New Scientist, 7
February, 2009, p. 13.
We are so stuck in our herd mentality and in the "herd"
paradigm that we think a little movement is breaking away. It seemingly
takes a Herculean effort to really break away. Consider the case of John
the Baptist: Eschewing the normal life, holding forth out in the
wilderness dressed in lederhosen and eating locusts and honey, blasting
the spiritual leadership of Israel, preaching in diatribes against the ills of
society, calling for repentance and a turning away from business as usual.
His characterization of himself was, "I am the voice of one crying in
the wilderness". We would normally think that if ever someone had broken
away from the herd, this neo-Elijah John would be the one.
Ostensibly John was supernaturally selected to be the
one that introduced the public ministry of Jesus. When Jesus came to him
by the river Jordan to be baptized, John recognized whom this was, and
cried out, "Behold the Lamb of God, who removes the sin of the world."
After baptizing Jesus, John sees some manifestation of spirit coming
down upon Jesus, and he and the crowd hear a voice from heaven, "This is my beloved
son, with whom I am well satisfied". Don't you think that John should
have been convinced, and was?
WHY then, a couple of years later while in prison, did John send two of
his disciples to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for
another?" Wasn't this turn around by Jphn because the things
Jesus was saying and doing were substantially off the reservation, outside his
expectations, outside the paradigm? Jesus seemingly wasn't doing
anything political or powerful to set the world of Israel right! Outside of healing a
bunch of undeserving people—some being outright sinners—of their physical and mental ills, as far as
John could see he was
mostly teaching some kind of strange message in parables. And Jesus was
allowing himself to be surrounded by a rabble of ignorant fishermen, publicans, and
thinking was obviously. "What was the good in that?"
Where was the progress in setting up the kingdom of God
on earth? This is what a Messiah is supposed to do, but John didn't see that
developing! That agenda, was in John's mind of course, the only possible one
that the representative of God could have. Not only was there this lack of
progress, but there was no diminution of the oppressive power and yoke
of imperial Rome. In fact, Jesus wasn't
even SAYING anything about Rome or its oppression at all, wasn't even
rallying the people, wasn't even hinting about starting a movement.
Worse yet, he wasn't railing against divorce, sexual immorality or other
sins of the flesh. Worst of all, as charismatic and empowered as he was,
he was saying a lot of things that were apparently inscrutable and
opaque, some even very distasteful and troubling.
And he was skirting the limit in terms of violating the law of Moses
that John felt was so fundamental for good behavior, for influencing God to
favor the nation, and for being righteous. All in all, not so good in the mind's
eye of John the Baptist. How could all this be compatible with the behavior
of any true representative of God?
No wonder Jesus said, "Among those born of women, there
has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in
the Kingship of heaven is greater than he." These words are NOT an endorsement
of John and his understanding, but rather the statement is tantamount to saying that John the
Baptist didn't get it, wasn't eve close to understanding the message and
demonstration of Jesus. Compare what happened to John the Baptist versus
what happened to Lazarus. There is a simple yet profound implication here.
John was a firebrand preacher/prophet in the traditional Hebrew religious mode and paradigm who was
unprepared to understand the real God that Jesus himself was and
revealed IN PUBLIC. In contrast, Lazarus was a FRIEND who kept inviting
Jesus to stay at his place!
One final sentiment: I would rather hang out with Lazarus than with John
the Baptist, and evidently so would the cCreator.
* Jesus may have put a tongue-in-cheek or mocking tone in his voice when
he pronounced this word. Such subtleties and nuances are usually lost when
the quote is put into script.