I WAS THE VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS (Mt.3, 11; Mk.1; Lk.1, 3, 7; Jn.1).
I guess the introduction says it all. I was the man, in the desert, preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins. I was sent to prepare the way for someone much greater than I was and point Him out as the One that could take away the sins of the world. But I did have a name. It was John. And since I baptized many sinners, I was also called the, “Baptist.” I was also born with the help of an angel. My parents were past childbearing and my father was a priest. He was performing his sacrificial duty when an angel appeared and told him that he was going to be a father and that this son of his would grow up as a Nazarite (like a recluse) and announce the presence of the Messiah (a man that would save us). He was so shocked and in such disbelief that he lost his voice until I was born and he named me John. That was what the angel had predicted.
I was born into a very religious and God-fearing home. Both my parents were descendents of Levi that became the line of priests and Temple servants that lived of the tenth. Hence, my upbringing was rigid. I had to be kept apart from the world. I could not dress like other boys or play with them. My hair could not be touched and my food was specially prepared. From the day I began to understand words, I was told that I was born to be some special prophet that would usher in some new age with that great expected leader. That indeed set me apart from other children and in their eyes I became somewhat of a freak. I did not mind them laughing at me because I did feel inside of me that I was here for a higher purpose than they were. No angel had predicted any of their births. When I became old enough, about twelve, I began to enjoy the outdoors, especially lonely places. I imagined myself being Moses tending sheep in the desert or Elijah hiding in the rocks to survive. I learned that the outdoors was cruel and unsympathetic. A heavy coat of camel hair was needed for shelter and a strong belt for defense. I developed a taste for locusts and wild honey. Now, I was really queer and a complete hermit. I now was and lived the isolated life of a Nazarite.
Rumors were spreading about the wild man in the desert. When I turned thirty, I felt that I had to begin preaching and to my surprise people began to gather in the desert by the river to listen to me. Some even became my close followers and companions. I attacked sin with all my might. One of the great sinners was Herod the Governor of Galilee. He had stolen his brother’s wife and lived in adultery. His wife did not take kindly to my denouncements and had me imprisoned. With the help of her daughter, she succeeded to get my head at the end. Before that, I had a higher purpose. Herod and his unlawful wife could not thwart the Lord’s purpose for my being in the world. I did not realize, however, that my purpose would be brief. I also realized, too late, that my personal interests got in the way of what might have been. Instead of pointing out sin, I began to judge sinners by naming them. That was my downfall. I should have stuck with preaching the baptism of repentance from sin and let the Lord do the sentencing.
One day, I was preaching, baptizing and hoping for our great leader, my cousin, Jesus from Nazareth stepped into the river to be baptized of me. I had this strange feeling in me about Him. My mother had told me many times that her cousin had a special visitation and that her Son was to become our Deliverer. I said to him, “You should be baptizing me.” But He insisted that this was the proper way in order to fulfill God’s Laws. I did put Him under. When He came up from under the water, He prayed. I could not hear His words because there was a voice from above saying, “This is my beloved Son. He pleases me.” Then, a dove visibly descended on Him and sort of vanished without flying away. I knew there and then that the dove was the sign that Jesus was the One for whom I had waited and for whom I had to prepare the people. When He passed my place again the next day, I told every one to look at the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world. Two of my closest followers, Andrew and John followed Jesus and later on many others. When my followers began to decline, they asked me what was happening and I had to tell them that I was on the fall and He on the rise.
Shortly thereafter, I was arrested by Herod’s soldiers and kept in his jail. Somehow, I had the wrong conception of what the Redeemer’s mission was. I expected Him to rally the people and with His supernatural power bail me out and deliver me from evil Herod. When that did not happen, I sent messengers to Jesus and inquired whether He was the One or were we to wait for another? He told them to watch what He was doing and saying, then go and tell me. My messengers returned by telling me that He made the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers clean, the deaf hear, the dead live again and the poor heard about hope. They were not clear on what the hope was, but from the prophet Isaiah, I had learned that it meant freedom from sin, slavery and oppression. I began to understand that the Redeemer was no military genius but a moral one. In order to conquer man, one must first take possession of his heart, his mental faculties and his personal interests. Man must change from within if he wants to be victorious on the outside. That is where I made my mistake and it costs me my head. Of course, I was not allowed to see the end result of Jesus’ way. I must leave that to you for a final analysis. Of course, I shall be watching from heaven and delight when He calls me the greatest and the last among the prophets. It bothers me, a little, that you can be greater if you get into his Kingdom?