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Big Bad John (the Baptist)

December 11, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Pastor Chuck DeVane

Special to The Sentinel-Record

The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

-- Luke 3:2-3

It is a tradition at Advent to offer a sermon on the greatest of all the herald angels who harkened the arrival of Jesus Christ. He is the announcer of the Advent in the middle, not the birth of Christ, not the return of Christ, but the beginning of the public ministry of Christ. Then as Jesus increased, he decreased, dying a martyr's death. He is big (in the overall scheme of things), he is bad (in the hippest, coolest sense of the word), He is John, Big Bad John, the Baptist.

A few years ago I wrote a song about him, sung to the tune of Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John."

In the fullness of time

God gave him a word,

And the people in the wilderness

of Judea heard,

A man preaching repentance

and faith in God,

He spoke real bold

but he dressed kind of odd,

big John,

John preached against sin

and he preached about love,

He pointed all the people

to the good Lord above,

But one day his sermon,

it hit the wrong note,

Herod took him prisoner

and it was all she wrote

for big John,

He baptized Jesus

and a new day began,

But then it was time

for his work to end,

He lost his head

in that cold jail cell,

But many went to Heaven

and escaped from Hell,

thanks to John,

Big John, Big John,

Big Bad John (the Baptist)

John saw the Messiah as both a lamb and a lion, a suffering servant and a conquering king. He lived to see the fulfillment in Jesus Christ, even baptized Him, and helped launch the life-giving, soul-saving gospel ministry of the Lord.

John preached a simple but powerful gospel message. All people are sinners, in desperate need of God's grace and mercy. In order to be saved, we must repent (turn to God) and believe (trust with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength) in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

That was John's story, and he told it well. Then, John died in his early 30s, right after Herod Antipas had him arrested and condemned for criticizing the king's sex life. God's providence is peculiar, indeed, but always perfect, as is His plan for all who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ.

All Christians are all advent angels, like Big Bad John. We are all heralds of the first coming, the gospel ministry, and the second coming of Jesus Christ. We all "preach the gospel, a chapter each day, with the things we do and the words we say." John's life and testimony made a difference, and so can yours and mine.

On the worst of our days we will not see his kind of poverty, or difficulty, or (I pray) unjust execution. We are doubly blessed with spiritual and physical benefits unknown to previous generations of Christians. For most of us, our end will come in the comfort of our nice homes, or perhaps in a hospital or hospice bed where every measure is taken to ensure our ease to the end.

Should we apologize for having it so much better than John? By no means. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." But let us consider what to do with the means of our lives before they reach the end.

This brings us back around to Advent. It is a season of arrival, of announcement, of welcome. Christ has come, Christ has lived and died and rose again, and Christ is returning to Earth. Thank you, John, and most of all thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for making the gospel plain, accessible, wonderful.

Now is our moment in redemptive history. Let us make the most of it. Make sure you have welcomed the arrival of Jesus Christ into your own life as Lord and Savior, and if He is not Lord, He is not your Savior. Begin (or begin again) a God-centered life, surrounded by the things of God, His word, His church, His children. Be a herald, and angel, a messenger of the New Covenant offered by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Make your life a witness of the Advent of Christ, just like Big Bad John (the Baptist).

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, 5963 Central Ave. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]

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