The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ Even I didn’t recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. Even I didn’t recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.” John 1:29-34 CEB
That wild man John the Baptist cried out, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Long before there was a United States of America, there came a man in the form of a baby, son of God, son of man – Jesus. Destined to become The Christ. John knew then what we need to remember today: Jesus, son of God, son of man, The Christ – has come and changed everything. John was a man to whom folks listened. Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.’ “ He’s that guy. As a mother and grandmother who wants the world to be a decent place for my family and friends to thrive, I am DESPERATE for perspective. If I’m looking around at the world through the lens of the news channel, I can get pretty freaked out. Surely my hope cannot be found in trusting mere mortals to make the world a safe and decent place for my family. I’m too old to believe that one!! Fortunately, I am one of countless mothers who has learned over the course history that I do not need to put all my faith in humans. In the book of Deuteronomy 6:4 it says something like this: “Here, O Israel! The Lord your God is one. Love Him. Love Him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” What has taken me a bit longer to understand is the reason WHY I am encouraged to love with this wild abandon. You see, humans taught me that love is conditional, a quid pro quo experience. I learned this as a child and it took decades to unlearn this faux love principle. As a young person, I thought I HAD to love God so that he wouldn’t smite me. This is so very, very wrong. We do not have a hungry, angry, narcissistic God who demands our loyalty because he is insecure in his own Godhood. I experience Deuteronomy as a cry to worship, not as a demand for obedience. It’s the ONLY appropriate response to a God who loves us because he is loving. It is acceptance that springs from his character, not as a response to our playing by his rules. Oh how I love this God of mystery and grace, who holds me and my babies in the palm of his hand with tender mercy.