Friday, February 11, 2005

February 11, 2005

Read John 1:35-42

Why wasn't he invited to the party? Wy wasn't he chosen to be one of the inner circle? Why wasn't John the Baptist called to follow Jesus?

After all, they had grown up together in the same extended family, John being born just a few months before Jesus. When his family went to Jerusalem for the yearly pilgrimage, surely they stayed with Zecheriah and Elizabether, and the two cousins must have spent hours together playing and roaming the streets of the Holy City. Maybe they even shared dreams of what they wanted to do and be when they grew up (now those would have been conversations worth eavesdropping on!).

And John was the one to whom Jesus went when he was ready to begin his public ministry. All the gospels tell us that, all of them tell us that John is the one who baptizes his cousin and bears witness to the power of the water and of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, when he had the chance and could have followed Jesus, he stayed behind, sending his own young followers after the one whose sandals John had probably tightened many times when they were little, but now felt he was not worthy to loosen. Why?

Maybe it was because he and Jesus knew each other too well. After all, the two brothers I have who are also ministers and I probably would not work well as pastors in the same church. There are friends of mine that I would love to work with, but the knowledge we have on one another might get in the way of effective partnerships.

Or maybe, maybe John did what he had been doing all of his life - being a mentor for his younger cousin. Modeling for Jesus what it menat to be obedient to God, even when God asked one to go against the traditions and teachings of one's religion. Modeling for Jesus what it meant to follow where God leads, even when everyone else, including family, thought you had become unbalanced. Modeling for Jesus what it might cost to be faithful to God's call, even the cost of one's life.

Prayer: Holy One of Baptizers, we thank you for those who have modeled, and continue to model, for us the life of faithfulness, of obedience, of denial of self, of costly discipleship. Give us the strength to be mentors to others who look to us to find the way to you. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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