Saturday, April 23, 2016

John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. Mark 1:6

Since I was a child, I thought of John the Baptist as a pretty strange fellow. The description of him always included the fact that he lived off bugs and what he could find in nature, like honey, and that his dress was not exactly fashionable. He was an oddball, even for those times. But it was this lifestyle of selflessness that made him a better spokesman for God. The prophets were not all strange in their times, but many were. Ezekiel and Haggai were know for doing some very strange things during their tenures. Holy, meaning set apart for spiritual purposes, would be a fair description of the man who pointed the way directly to Jesus.

Jesus talked about John's wardrobe in another passage. Did you expect him to dress in fine linen?

Let's consider that his ministry was one of calling people to repentance and forgiveness. That has been the call of God since Adam and Eve hid in the garden. And believe it or not, even his wardrobe proclaimed that message.

But first let's consider those terms, repentance and forgiveness.

To repent is to turn around. Do a 180. Go back to where you came from. John, like God in the garden calling Adam to come out of hiding, called the people back to a right relationship with Jesus.

What did John wear? The same thing that Adam and Eve wore. Many agree that he actually wore the skin of the animal and not a woven garment, and that would be in keeping with the pictures every Sunday School child brings home. If it was woven, it was itchy and scratchy, more like a burlap sack. It would not have been made from the soft undercoat, for that was for the rich man. If it was woven, it would represent the constant irritation of sin in our lives. It promises some warmth to the body, but irritates the soul. But I rather think that John was covered as Adam and Eve were covered, with the skin of another animal.

Forgiveness of sins...the other message of John.

Something had to die. Sin has to be covered, according to scripture. In this case, a camel skin was the covering. It would only take one animal to cover John and would make the cloak for sleeping under the stars. But it had to be dead for John to use it. And that is how God covered the shame for the first sinners. When God finally got them to quit running away, He covered them at the price of another life. And ultimately with the life of His Son.

Even the leather belt was made from the hide of another animal. It was needed to hold things in place and to keep it with him even in the desert heat of the day. There was no linen, no softness, no comfort in his covering. It was being clothed in the death of another, just as God prescribed in Genesis. It was a foretelling of the ministry that this Jesus he was pointing to would have to provide to cover our sins from the eyes of a Holy God.

John proclaimed Christ crucified in his wardrobe. Humble, uncomfortable, and prophetic. The wardrobe gained him the attention he needed for a time to fulfill the role God had for him on this earth. I wonder how beautiful the robes are he is wearing now.

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