A TESTIMONY: JOHN THE BAPTIST
By Denise Day Spencer
NARRATOR: The word of God came to John in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But when John rebuked Herod the king, (looking at JOHN) Herod locked John up in prison. *
JOHN: I always knew I was not the Messiah. But I thought Jesus was. It was my job to be his messenger, to point the people to him. I got their attention, too, for my sermon was powerful.
(increasingly animated) “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near! I baptize you with water for repentance. But one will come after me who is more powerful than I. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire! His pitchfork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable flames!” **
That’s the kind of Messiah our people were looking for. It was in the scriptures. One who would come to rescue us at last, to bring vengeance on our enemies!
I got reports in prison of Jesus’ activities. He was going around the countryside with his little band of followers teaching things like, “Do not resist an evil person..If someone wants to sue you and take your clothes, give him your coat, too!” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (enter JESUS on one side) Well, this didn’t sound very Messiah-like to me, (enter DISCIPLE from other side, who crosses to JESUS) so I sent one of my disciples to investigate.
DISCIPLE: (to JESUS) Master, I come from John, in prison. He wants to know if you are the one who was to come, or should we wait for someone else?
JESUS: Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard. The blind see, the lame walk, the dead are raised and good news is preached to the poor.
DISCIPLE: (expecting more) That’s it?
JESUS: That’s it. (as DISCIPLE turns to leave) Oh, there is one more thing. (DISCIPLE turns back) Tell John blessed is the man who does not lose faith because of me. (JESUS and DISCIPLE exit, opposite directions)
JOHN: I almost did. Lose faith because of Jesus. All because I thought I knew what to expect. But Jesus surprised us all. I did not live to see his death. But I know now that he came to deliver us, not by raising an army and defeating the Romans, but by giving himself as the perfect sacrifice to save us from our own sin.
He came to deliver you, too. It may not be what you expected, but it’s the truth.
* from Luke 3:2b-3, 19-20
** paraphrased from Matthew 3:2, 11-12