Years ago, when the Lord called me to write, I was engaged in a group Bible study of the gospel of Matthew. As I read each lesson, I found myself lingering over each character that came along, wondering what the rest of their story might be.
Sometimes a whole incident was told in two verses. I wanted to say, “Whoa, who is this leper? What did he do for a living? What was the initial separation like for he and his wife and children knowing that they could never see each other or touch each other again?
Then Jesus healed him! Jesus even touched this unclean leper. Amazing. Oh the gratitude he must have felt. Did his family know about Jesus? Were they cautious, even afraid to accept him back in the household?
I found myself asking questions and thinking about the characters Jesus met all along the way. I wanted readers of Scripture to wonder as well. For I found that asking questions leads you to seek answers.
We might not always get it exactly right, but as we dig into other similar passages or Bible notes, these characters can come to mean more to us. They become the real people they were.
Let’s take John the Baptist for instance. Matthew tells us,
John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Don’t jump over the phrase that tells of his two-part message—the call for repentance and the message that heaven is near. In other words, the Savior is coming.
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him.’ “ Matthew 3:1-2
So, John knows the ancient writings of the prophets all the way back to Isaiah and he equates the “voice” as himself and the “Lord” as the Messiah, the coming-soon Messiah.
We read a little farther and discover that John wears camel-hair clothing with a leather belt and eats locusts and wild honey—a desert man for sure. That gives us a glimpse of the ruggedness of this man.
People went to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and from the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. Matthew 3:5-6
Clearly he was effective, in spite of his desert-man ways. Again, a two-part result—confession of sin and the commitment of baptism. Thus, he was known as John the Baptizer or John the Baptist.
In the first chapter of Luke, we find out about his miracle-boy birth.
My point is, we must read slowly, think through the pieces we are given, and look for other references that will give greater insight.
What took place when he was out there in the desert during his preparation years? How did the Spirit reveal so much to him? Was it similar to Jesus desert experience? What do we learn when we’re in those wandering “desert” times? Hmm.
~ Joyce ~