Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Collected sayings of John the Baptist


This is an unusual Morning Watch.  Below you will see every instance I could find of direct quotes from John the Baptist.  I think it makes an interesting mosaic.  I have taken the “saying of John” out of context and haven’t even listed the Scripture references because I thought it made more sense to give a clean version of the texts. 

What emerges is a high relationship between things Jesus said and things John said.   The quotes from John that are in the Bible are much shorter and less developed than direct quotes from Jesus, but the topics are what interest me.  As you’ll see below, many of the quotes appear in more than one gospel, often in slightly altered form.  But they fall into four broad categories: Confronting Authorities, Spiritual Ethics,
The Holy Spirit, and The Christ.

Each of these broad topics was also an important part of Jesus teaching.   Jesus confronted both the religious and secular authorities around him, frequently calling them whitewashed tombs, children of Satan, and a host of other epithets.  John’s Ethical teaching is remarkably similar to Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and even more remarkably like his instructions as he sends the disciples out on mission (take no tunic, no money bag) 

Considering there was no doctrine of the Trinity in the Jewish thought of the time, both John and Jesus have a highly developed understanding of his ministry.  And there is no question the John has read and understood the Hebrew Scriptures enough to fully grasp the ministry of the coming Messiah.

The Gospel of John tells us the ministry of the Holy Spirit:  “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”  I can’t think of any passage the so clearly distills the ministry of John the Baptist as that. 

Here, then, is the teaching of John the Baptist as it unfolds in Scripture.  I hope you’ll find it enlightening, as I did:

Saying #1 – Confronting of Authorities
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
           
Saying #2a – Ethical Teaching
“Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

“Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Saying #2b
“Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”

“Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”

Saying #2c
“Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

“Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

Saying #3a – The Holy Spirit
“I baptize you with water [for repentance], but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy [to carry]. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

“I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor [and to gather the wheat into his barn], but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

“After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Saying #3b
“I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.””

Saying #3c
“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Saying #4a – The Christ
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me…I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.  I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Saying 4b
“Behold, the Lamb of God!”

Saying #4c
“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Saying #5 – Confrontation of Authorities
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”

Saying #6a – The Christ
“I am not the Christ.”

Saying #6b
[Are you Elijah?” He said,] “I am not.”

Saying #6c
“Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

Saying #6d
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Jon

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