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In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.' " " Mathew 3: 1-3


A weirdo. John the Baptist, that is.

There is no doubt about that - strange clothing (a camel's hair garment); strange eating habits (locusts and wasp honey only); strange preaching (repentance and all that); strange river baptism (dunking in Jordan) for those who took his preaching seriously there near Jerusalem, Israel, in AD 30. 

His father had been a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, where animal sacrifices were still being offered as John the Baptist caused a stir outside the city. That's another strange thing - he based his customer service centre - his whole operation, actually - in the wilderness of Judea.

Jersey has had several new business launches in recent months - two are offering mobile phone services. To attract customers high profile launches have been organised. Celebrities have lent their names to new products and services. Jersey's new phone companies have drawn thousands of subscribers and buyers.

None have used a weirdo to that end. And none have opened their only shop on the St Ouen sand dunes.

Yet.... something highly unusual happened ... Jerusalem (some estimate its population then at around 100,000) went out to John... as did all of Judea... plus the entire region round about that river - the Jordan. Many more than the Jerusalem population.

And …. they were baptised in that (pretty dire) river... and, as they were baptised, they were confessing their sins.... openly stating, by a physical act and by their words, "we have messed up and we want to put it right".

Then they were ready for the good news - the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the way to forgiveness of confessed sins. 

If weirdos in wildernesses always achieved such results Saatchi & Saatchi would be recruiting as many as they could find.

Prayer, to many, is also strange. John the Baptist was marvellously effective for the one about whom he preached, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'. He was effective because of another who was behind it all. That other rendered it extremely (totally, actually) effective.

The effectiveness of prayer also depends on another... it depends on the person to whom it is addressed.

And that person was (is) the same person to whom John the Baptist was pointing...

Interesting that prayer is still being made - to the same person - in Jersey these days

the foolishness of God is wiser than men ...' (Letter to Christians in Corinth circa AD 55)
  John Newton, writer of "Amazing Grace":  ‘Thou art coming to a King; large petitions with thee bring: for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much.' 
Richard Syvret

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