Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Outlandish (05/19/11)
TITLE: Camel's Hair a Fashion?
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Suffice it to say, his was a miraculous birth whose conception was heralded by no less than an angel. Proof of this miraculous encounter was the fact that Zechariah was rendered mute while offering incense inside the temple. In an interview at the child’s brit milah when he was finally able to speak, Zechariah said, “He came out of nowhere. All of a sudden there was a bright light and when I saw him, I knew right away he was an angel of YHWH.”
The angel, whose name is Gabriel and stands in the presence of the Most High God as His personal messenger, announced that Elizabeth was going to become with child; Zechariah verbalized his doubt. “That was when I was struck dumb,” the priest said gravely, as he recounted his mistake, “He told me I couldn’t speak for eight days.” Zechariah was silent for a moment as his eyes glistened in the memory of this epoch.
Soon, he recovered and sitting straight up he continued, “They were about to name him after me - as is the custom - during his bris, so I had to quickly ask for a tablet to write that his name is ‘John,’ because that was the name Gabriel gave me. That was when the Holy Spirit came upon me and I prophesied his future.”
A future that we are sure even Zechariah himself failed to predict. John, “the baptist,” (so nicknamed because of his career in baptizing people to save them from God’s wrath and for the forgiveness of their sin) can be found these days on the Jordan River rather than at the temple as was expected. Clad in unfashionable camel's hair and his sole diet being locusts and wild honey, this outlandish character is the subject of much controversy. The High Priest, Annas, honored us with this quote, “He was a PK (Priest’s Kid) and we expected him to follow in his father’s footsteps. Rather, he has disgraced his father by calling us a ‘brood of vipers!’ Who does he think he is? The Messiah?” Apparently, some people do.
Sinners, tax collectors, Roman soldiers, vagabonds, practically every “nobody” flock to John at the Jordan River to be baptized by this eccentric, peculiar and unrefined individual who attracts people with the fiery passion that emanates from his wild eyes. Zeal blazes from his very being in an untamed and savage desire to pull people out of the raging fire and into YHWH’s salvation. With these words, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near!” People rush towards the water, crying as though judgment were chasing them at the heels, to be baptized by him. Yet, he himself denies being the Messiah. While taking a break, we were able to sit down with him and secure this statement, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” Exactly what he means, no one can venture a guess. When asked plainly if he was the Christ, he answered, “No, I am not.”
He ruffles the feathers of our religious leaders. He attracts the people we are told by tradition to avoid like a leper. Messiah or lunatic? You decide.
He can be found at the Jordan River all week, even on the Sabbath.
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