Why John the Baptist? A Savior Needs the Prophets

Reading the Canticle of Zechariah this morning, I found myself wondering once more about John the Baptist. How would the story of Jesus be different without the presence of John the Baptist?

From a historical angle, we could simply note that there just WAS a pre-existing movement out of which Jesus emerged as a leader. And since there were and still are disciples of John the Baptist (Sabaeans), the gospel writers took pains to depict Jesus and John as cooperative rather than competitive — and to clarify that John himself believed he was preparing for and pointing to the Messiah to come after him. Continue Reading

Lilies, Ravens, a Kindled Fire: Lenten Preparation

Some years back I’d think every day during Lent about how if one could just grasp Jesus’ teaching about being like the lilies of the field and the ravens of the air, one would be living the core of the gospel. But reading Luke last week, I noticed that in the very same chapter of Luke, Jesus then says this:

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!” (Luke 12:49-50).

Jesus is under stress! And he’s just told his hearers not to worry! Continue Reading