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Monday, 24 June 2013

A Voice in the Wilderness

By our modern way of judging things, John would be a one hit wonder.

He came out of nowhere and was suddenly the biggest draw in town. He was the number one. "Baptistmania" was all the rage.

And then, as is the way with sudden rising stars, he was supplanted. Just as his birthday is celebrated on the edge of the equinox - as the days get less - he was overtaken by another who was waxing strong.

And he could have struggled by, bashing out the same hits, playing to smaller crowds - like the remnants of Manfred Mann playing The Stables instead of the Hammy Odeon. Waiting for a "30s revival" to break out, and troll around small-town Palestine with three failed Messiahs, a soothsayer and a bloke who thought he was the prophet Enoch.

But John was true to himself, whatever. He had something still to say - a challenge to authority. And even if he couldn't count on the crowds to protect him he was going to tell Herod where he stood.

And, alone in a cell, wondering if it had been worth it - if the One who he'd heralded was the one he thought - he got the message ---the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.

And then he received two rewards - one from that useless, craven, vicious king, so brave towards his people and yet a crawling worm to Rome. And the far greater one from the real King - a crown to sit on his precious head forever.


  1. And lots of places named after him in a continent he never knew because the early Europeans tended to arrive around the day named in his honour, and remembered him. So many places, and so much inspiration for sermons that small children - well, one, anyway - are for a time confused at any mention of any other St. John, because of course they've heard so much about the great Baptist, or Baptiser as they're calling him now, that they think he must be the only one.

    Not bad for someone who ended his career in prison and then murdered. But as you say, his greater reward wasn't being remembered and honoured so long after his death.

  2. I liked the bit about the remnants of Manfred Mann.. presumably doing things like 54321 and that penguin song instead of the real blues that they started with.....

  3. I'm replying to myself... It wasn't Quinn the penguin! but Quinn the Eskimo...... or as we now say Quinn the Innuit (innit)


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