Matthew 11 relates the story of two disciples sent by John the Baptist to Jesus asking Him questions regarding His Ministry. Jesus’ response not only to John and the multitude is telling!
“What did you go out to the Wilderness to see? What did you go out to the Wilderness to hear? “
I sense in these questions not only did Jesus address John in the context of his personal call but also to the multitude about their collective call.
In preparing this theme I understand that the role John the Baptist plays in the preparation for the new covenant also has implications for us today. What we see is that God not only draws away John from what was expected of him as a son of a priest, but also the drawing of the people from the cities and towns to the desert to hear a repentance message.
The message here is that where God starts something new is never where we expect it to be.
The description of John is striking in that his attire and his diet indicates an unusual character causing a reverberation nationally that people were drawn to the desert. And what drew John? A divine call. What drew the people? A divine stirring. This stirring is because the message was something new accompanied by a new manifestation. It was this call that drew Jesus out of obscurity to His Mission.
I sense in meditating particularly on this theme is that there is a stirring going on today. Many preach about God moving and reviving faith in their congregation. But whilst this may be true there is a greater mission coming. That which precedes the Coming of the King.
It is this message that many do not preach.
Jesus makes mention in the Parable of the 10 virgins the imagery of the Coming of the Bridegroom. He shows us the 10 virgins who line the way of preparation to announce and illuminate the way of the Coming of the Lord. The 5 who were wise had oil, the foolish had no oil.
For my own thinking the oil represents the anointing of illumination of preparation for the Coming of the King. The way had to be illuminated and those who were there waiting for Him entered into that which was perfect and eternal.
So much time is spent on maintaining the present faith but no time on preparing for the eternal life. Much is preached on the acquisition of provision and solutions for modern day pressures. The way in which the Lord will come how is that being illuminated today? Who is preparing for His Coming?
Those who had no preparation were left with their lamps dark and had to leave their posts in search of oil. They were excluded because they did not fulfil His Call.
Jesus shows us that all slept. And how much God’s people sleep today. In sleep time passes rapidly. In sleep nothing is seen or heard until it is too late. So instead of maintaining we must start preparing.
There is no better place than the desert or wilderness for this. You know you are entering this wilderness when you recognise that the modern trends and tendency in what we see as Church is not what God is showing you in spirit.
I am not advocating separation or exclusiveness in our attitude. What I believe is certain is that we recognise that in 40 thousand denominations surely there is the truth out there somewhere.
Surely in this proliferation of division there is Something or Someone drawing us into that which unites. Surely as society and Church that sometimes comes against the Word there is Something or Someone drawing us to that which is the fullness of the Promise.
What drew John to the Wilderness? A voice crying out; prepare the way! That same voice cries out to you today! What do you need to separate yourself from to execute that preparation? Where is your wilderness?
Only you know what is your wilderness. What I do know is that every new thing God does never is born in the majority but starts with a minority.
How do we arrive at these conclusions? How do we know? What is forgotten in many places is the exercise of spiritual disciplines instead of the quick fixes presented in modern congregations. The long and hard study of Scripture coupled with contemplative prayer brings us over time a deeper understanding of how God deals with man throughout history. And reading the signs which manifest.
What did John go to the desert to see? He saw, as John’s Gospel testifies that He saw the sign of the Messiah; the Holy Spirit descending upon a man. John 1 explains this.
God wants us to go to the Wilderness to see Jesus. To see the Messiah and recognise Him. That way we can be sure in the hour of His Coming we shall be ready.