I WAS CALLED “John the Baptist” because of that great revival movement we had down by the Jordan River. We were all so hopeful then, especially after my cousin Jesus showed up. I suspected he was The One to save our people, even after he asked me to baptize him. But when I heard that heavenly voice announcing, “This is my Son,” I knew. Judgment was coming! Jesus would know how to separate the wheat from the chaff and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:11-17)!
I was on a roll. We Jews would live by Yahweh’s law, Rome’s yoke would be cast off, and everything would change. I kept preaching and baptizing, and I even chastised Herod Antipas for his unlawful marriage (Mark 6:17-18), confident he was part of the “chaff.” Jesus was our Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel—and I had been his forerunner (Matthew 3:2-3). Yet here I am—chained to a wall in Herod’s dreary prison cell. What went wrong?
I assumed Jesus would gather and train disciples to prepare for a revolution. But rumors from my own disciples tell me this is not happening. He’s sending them out on missions to Jews, but not as I expected. They don’t even carry a backpack or a staff. Their only weapon is against physical diseases. And their promised rewards are arrests, floggings, and trials (Matthew 10:1-25). This sounds like a parody of what I was hoping for! Jesus acts more like a teacher and healer—even a prophet—but not like a king, not like an anointed Messiah!