I sometimes think of myself as a bit of a voluptuary--someone who likes his creature comforts and enjoys the finer things. Heck, I don't even like to move more than I can help. That's why it's strange that John the Baptist (or Ioannes the baptizer for Ruden) is likely my favourite character in the New Testament. You wouldn't think hair shirts and locust would be my thing, but there is something about John's message and way of life that really appeals to me. His life is hard and his message is even harder--"REPENT"
The most surprising thing in Ruden's translation is she says John's basic message was "Change your purpose, because the kingdom of the skies has come near." This is...not what I'm used to, and it is another case of where she makes something familiar strange. It is kind of cool to think I might be a citizen of the sky kingdom--it makes me think of Cloud City from Star Wars. I checked on this translation (in an interlinear) and it is valid.
John's message of repentance makes it pretty clear that this isn't just a heart thing, it is also an action thing, a behaviour thing. When Ruden says "change your purpose" rather than "repent" that sort of puts it into clear focus. Of course a different purpose in life is going to result in different behaviour. I'm pretty sure I know what this looks like: feed the hungry, give to the poor, visit the sick. It could also mean being a non-anxious, caring presence in others' lives. I'm none of those things, but I would like to be. I find myself too committed to my own comfort.
John has lots of sharp edges, and he is not at all risk-free. I don't get the sense that John is creating "safe spaces" for people. And yet people found him very attractive and came to see him in droves. John must have been lit up with an inner fire that made him appealing and made soft beds and good food unimportant for him and that gave him the passion to preach something that was hard, but that people wanted to hear.
How about you? What did you see in Chapter 3 that struck you? Let me know in the comments.