Crazy Cousin John! (Israel Trip)

Assumed Birthplace of John the Baptist. Shrine in cave in Church of John the Baptist in Ein Karem.
Statute in the Church close to the Birthplace of John the Baptist

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[a]
    make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
    and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Luke 3:1-9).”

My friend Steve Reed who does first person reenactments as James the half brother of Jesus, is the author of, “My Half Brother,” will often refer to John the Baptist as crazy cousin John. I love this, so I stole it from him. When someone asks me who is your favorite Biblical character? Of course you have to say Jesus first. But, next I almost always say John the Baptist. There is something about this guy that makes you say, I want to be like that. I say what I think, I like to think I am like John the Baptist. But, in truth when I am having a moment of honesty I have to say I am not as much like him as I want to be.

I care too much about what other people think of me. I feel the pressure to be politically correct like others. I don’t have the same resolve as John the Baptist. If John were with us today we would probably tell him that if he just toned it down a little and didn’t preach against the religious we would let him preach in our churches. We would probably let him know that if he just played the game a little he could go far with our particular movement (pick any of them). But, many people don’t care what others think that much, so that isn’t completely it. The real secret of John the Baptist is this guy cared a whole lot about what God thought of Him. He walked in security and had a crudeness because He lived for an audience of One. He isn’t John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. He is more than that. He is greater. Jesus considered him the greatest of anyone born of a woman other than Him (Luke 7:28). He is a Biblical Superhero.

Look at this passage. Luke is very attentive to detail. He knows John is Jesus’s cousin. He knows his dad is a Jewish Priest. He knows that these reasons alone make him a great candidate to be the forerunner of Jesus. But, look at the names mentioned. This guy ruled this area. Another guy was in charge of this thing. It was the days of this priest and this important person. But, the Word of God came to John …………

John? Just crazy John in the wilderness. He was just a guy out preaching by the Dead Sea and the Jordan River somewhere. The word of God came to this guy. Think about if it was written today. During the reign of Donald Trump and during the time of Nancy Pelosi. While Nations continued to war against each other and politics were played. While everyone was keeping up with the Kardasians, the Word of God came to this guy John ….. just preaching out in the middle of nowhere.

Picture I took from Mt. Masada. Not far from where John the Baptist preached. The Dead Sea is in the background and a lot of nothing.

Amazingly enough, the people, the religious, the romans, the masses went out to see him preaching out of town. They came down from Jerusalem and Capernaum to see him. This was not a soft message. This was a message of repentance. They walked out into the hot desert for several miles just for John to tell them they needed to repent of their ways.

So, while all of those significant people lived. Today in these pictures we celebrate John the Baptist. This site claims to be the birth site of John the Baptist. Sites are authenticated by historical tradition and if Christians came to this site to venerate this site and how early.

This site isn’t in the category of certainty, but the amazing part of this is standing where John the Baptist grew up we are not celebrating any of the people listed in Luke 3. They were important in John’s day but not anymore. We celebrate Crazy Cousin John. Thank God for a man who is willing to be a fool for Christ.

A group of Franciscan Monks watch over this property and my Facebook video has a one minute interview with this guy who is one of them. There are 23 or 27 of them living in this church, I can’t remember which number.

See Also: God Saves the Party

8 thoughts on “Crazy Cousin John! (Israel Trip)

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