By Susanne Timpani
John the Baptist appeared in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins he baptized them in the Jordan River. (Mark 1:4-6)
This painting gives us a glimpse of the type of crowd that gathered around John the Baptist. He must have been a compelling speaker for people to have come from 'all of Judea' and 'Jerusalem' to see and hear him.
I listened to a toastmaster recently who described the competitions speech makers enter. They are judged on presentation as much as content.
I suspect John was provided with a natural talent for drawing a crowd. If he was all doom and gloom I wonder how many people would have bothered to travel out to meet him.
Surely his message was an exciting and challenging one? 'Get ready, something...someone...is coming who is going to turn your world upside down.'
His was a call to action. 'This is what you must do.' People had to leave the safety of the crowd and go out on a limb in order to be baptised.
Are there aspects of my life that crowd out God's call to me? Are there ways I can support others to come and see and hear what Christmas is truly about?