"There are a thousand hacking at the
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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."
Vasily 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, he 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 it because the things Jesus was saying and doing were substantially outside John's 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 ignorant fishermen, publicans, and prostitutes! John's thinking was obviously. "What was the good in that?"
Where was the progress in setting up the kingdom of God on earth? John didn't see it! That agenda was in John's mind, of course, the only possible one that the son or representative of God could have. Not only 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, 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 to good behavior, influencing God to favor the nation, and being righteous. All in all, not so good in the mind's eye of John the Baptist.
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. 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.!