The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Have you ever tried to picture what John the Baptist might have actually looked like? The descriptions of him in the Bible are enough for us to know that he was unkempt, a bit “wild”, and ate bugs with honey. If I let my imagination wander just a bit more and “modernize” him a bit, he might have dreadlocks for hair, tattoos up and down his arms, a dozen or so body-piercings, and some awful breath!? The point here is that the “warm-up” act (John the Baptist) for the Headliner (Jesus) attracted thousands of Jews to the Jordan in an act of repentance. It’s almost unthinkable that someone with this description would convert so many to Christ without even performing a single miracle (John 10:41 “Many came to Him and said, “Although John never performed a sign, everything he said about this man was true.”). We’d most likely kick that Hippie out of our circles and make fun of Him behind His back. At least, I might. So, why do we judge others so harshly? My Daughter (who is 9 years old) is quick to remind me of the story in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. She would tell you that, had the Prince known that the old beggar woman at his door was a Fairy Princess, he would have treated her better and not been turned into a Beast. It’s the same for the rich man who died at the same time as Lazarus. We cannot let our hearts be hardened by the biases and prejudices of this world. We must remember that all of us are a perfect Creation from the Creator and that He made us all for a purpose. Every Soul matters.
“The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”