Matthew 3:1-12 NRSV
The two sat in the distance, looking on. They were watching John, standing with caramelized honey stuck to his camel hair clothes. He was yelling something about repentance. He was drawing a crowd. The first of the two pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers. "It's embarrassing just watching. Who does this?"
"He has quite a following. I hear the people really like him," said the other.
"I bet they are just watching for the morbid curiosity of it all. I mean who goes out in the wilderness and survives on wild honey and locusts? Who does he think he is? Sampson? We all know what happened to him. Lost his hair, his eyes, and died pulling the foundation down on top of a bunch of people while they were really mocking him." The first picked up a few stones and began lightly tossing them.
"I think they are actually following him," said the other.
"Then they are just as crazy as he is. There's an order to things. If this John character wanted to teach the story of G-d, he should have followed in his father's footsteps and became a priest."
"Unless," said the other, "he wanted to teach people who can't be taught in the synagogue."
"What are you talking about? Anyone who follows the rules can come to the synagogue and learn. The synagogue is for all of G-d's people."
The other's jaw dropped. "Unless he is trying to reach those who cannot live up to all those rules."
"Are you defending him?," said the first. "You're defending him! Listen, it's tradition. If tradition cannot stand then we have idiotic meetings in the middle of nowhere doing... doing... What are they doing? Oh, he's giving them baths. Maybe he will wash off some of that honey while he's rinsing people off."
The other stood. "There comes a time when the people must return to the wilderness. There comes a time when the rules don't make sense anymore and the only way to remember what they mean is to let go of the false safety of tradition. There are those who have become slaves to the rules that were made to free us. This man, this John, has come as a prelude to freedom. Of course it looks odd and strange. I am sure Moses looked strange too coming from the wilderness to see the Pharaoh. Like it was then, it's time to let go of our false securities that have enslaved us and embrace the wilderness again. You see a crazy man, I see redemption." The other smiled and walked to join the crowd gathering around the man.
"There goes another. Crazy I say. They are all insane." The first stood and walked back towards the city. "I'm quite comfortable where I am. Why should I make myself uncomfortable for the sake of the lunatic people in the wilderness? Nope. I'm going home."
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