Interpreting Jesus – Intimacy

That title really doesn’t do it justice.

I’ve been reading Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge, and following a recent 11-part podcast series by John and Craig of Ransomed Heart on interpreting your world, I’ve been enjoying revisiting this alternative, ulterior – yet so much more real – interpretation of Jesus that Eldredge presents in his book. It’s been altogether refreshing.

And I’ve gotta be honest. I haven’t been viewing Jesus right. I cringe as I think about that last sentence because I’m realizing something; I’ve been viewing Jesus. Viewing. Our relationship is well defined in that word, because that’s where it ends. I mean sure, I pray. I talk to him regularly. Often I hear him speaking back. But my attitude has been that Jesus is no more an interpersonal being than I am a jackrabbit.

Maybe I’m a jackrabbit.

I just don’t have an interpretation of Jesus that allows him the proximity which I believe and know (in my mind) that he wants to me. Perhaps I don’t feel significant enough for that; my interpretation includes a busy Son of God (how he is busy while chilling at the right hand of the Father I don’t know). Too busy to be intimate with me.

But Jesus, I need you to be intimate with me, My heart cries. But not only do I not have an interpretation that allows for an intimate Jesus, I don’t have any interpretation that allows for any man being intimately involved in my life. It just doesn’t exist. I won’t go into the blaring details of a confused childhood and the consequences which led me on into adult-hood without having that category of interpretation. Suffice it to say, I don’t think I know how to let Jesus be intimate with me; I don’t think I know what that looks like.

My 20 minutes of oil-pulling have somehow morphed into 25-going-on-30 – it’s time to lay this searching heart to rest.

Jesus, show your intimacy to me? I want to know you in the proximity that you want to know me. I’m not satisfied with this distance anymore.

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Interpretting Injustice

I witnessed an act of injustice yesterday. It was brutal, to say the least. I say that as the by-stander, an on-looker into moments of the world of someone else – it was brutal. A man left a woman in tears and sobbing loudly enough to penetrate through the cold walls of my second-floor apartment–and the flesh walls of my heart. And it broke me apart.

You’re probably wondering what I did. I didn’t do anything.

I froze up. To say that fear was present in that moment in spite of the immediate adrenaline rush would be accurate. What do I do in this moment? What is appropriate for me to do in this moment?God, what do I do?

I was at a loss; I couldn’t go, yet still be present near enough to the office where my duty was, and so I simply watched helplessly as she slowly left my range of view. I don’t think any description I could give of the moment would communicate to you how very desperately helpless, useless, cold, powerless, I felt–and how shocking both the situation and my emotional response were to me.

Not that I’m shocked by feeling compassion, but I have never had such a download of the love of Jesus in the moment like that; it was mentally staggering, and I was unable to get it out of my mind the rest of that night to the point of tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep. Somewhere along the line Jesus said to me, “And do you see how much I love my bride?” It was immense, and it was the immensity that shut me down.

And it would not leave my mind. I kept running it over in my mind, what could I have done? What shouldI have done? What would You have done, Jesus?

No answer. Not any that were clear or understandable, anyway–to this point.

I lay awake thinking and praying about it, praying in the Spirit because I didn’t know what to say or ask anymore, feeling completely like I missed an important moment. And all I got from Jesus was, “Stop worrying about her; I’m taking care of it – just pray.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about interpretation, the way I see things, the way I respond, my perspective, the lenses I see the world, people and God through. And interpretation has been in the back of my mind at all moments as I think back on yesterday. I keep wondering, God, do you have an interpretation for this that makes sense? What’s going on here? I still don’t know. I thought maybe drumming it all out here might shed some light on a different way to look at things, but I guess that’s the thing about getting God’s interpretation – it only comes in His time, as I become ready to receive it. If I had thought theoretically about a situation such as this my question to myself might have been, Would you do something? But in the moment of the raw compassion, it went to a level so much deeper than “Would you do something.It went to the core of my heart, and I would say Yes, I’ll do something. But Jesus? What can I do?

Avoiding Truth (For Those I’ve Left Behind, Part 2)

This is a bit of a thick subject; if you’re looking for something less focused on my church experience and why I left the church I grew up in, skip over to the next article.


As I was listening to some podcasts from Ransomed Heart Ministries I came across a couple regarding the Sabbath. “Huh,” I said to myself, “I didn’t know these guys had anything to say about it.” It was a perspective I’d never heard before – not at all legalistic, but also not the mystical concept of Sabbath in Christ. I say mystical concept because the understanding I’ve had of Sabbath has been about as material as a breath of wind. I mean, alright – the Sabbath was a representation of rest in Jesus, and no, the traditional old-covenant “Absolutely no labor” day wasn’t meant to be carried into the new covenant. But upon hearing a discussion between John and Craig about it I was reminded about something: we still need physical rest. That wasn’t the real revelation. The real revelation was, “It has never been about the Sabbath.”

So I guess I better explain that further, so you can get the revelation, too. But I’m going to be frank, and honest, and what I say might sound harsh.

My heart has been a little bogged down these last couple months. (You may have noticed my declining post-rate.) But what I heard God reminding me is bringing refreshment – it’s never been about the Sabbath. I didn’t leave the Adventist church over the Sabbath–or even the ten commandments, for that matter. These things definitely have been taught wrongly in mixture-covenant churches, but the flawed theology is only the by-product of deeper issues. I left because the Adventist denomination (denomination is just a fancy word in our enemy’s vocabulary for ‘divide and conquer’) is built on a history of lies (or concealed truth, whichever way you like to see it,) and false, unbiblical doctrine.

I’ll give you a minute to digest that. (I’m not going to go in-depth into those issues in this article, either.)

It wasn’t ever about the Sabbath, and honestly if it was just a Sabbath issue, I probably would have stayed. Because keeping one day in your week free from work, a whole day in which you can let your entire being rest, is a good idea, and necessary. You need to rest. You need to have times of rest and refreshing. You need to be able to step back from your work and just let God. But cunningly the devil sneaked in this focus on the Sabbath and the law, because when I look at just those things, I don’t see the reason for the decisions I’ve made. When I look at the Sabbath, I don’t see the reason where I was was not a good place for me to be. When I look at the law, I start to wonder if I’ve made the right choice – if I’m not just completely off track. But now that I’ve begun to see again where I’m at from God’s perspective–that’s hope. Because trying to put into words how I keep the Sabbath or the law differently than I used to just isn’t it. It doesn’t cut it, that’s not the pivotal point. The pivotal point is, “This system is built on a rotting foundation being held up by lies and manipulation.”

The subject of the Adventist church in any case is a depressing one for me – I just don’t want to go there. Even now I’m fighting myself over whether I should even finish and publish this post, and it doesn’t even look like I have a clear, legible piece of writing here. It’s sticky and messy and controversial, and it doesn’t make my heart come alive. (Is that any surprise?) I see a burning building, friends and family and others I love all inside–they aren’t even trapped, but they don’t want to leave because they don’t see the fire. They’d rather stay than face the cold outside, but it is the flames keeping them warm that are burning the house down. And my focus has been on the smoke instead of the fire, but if we only talk about the smoke that merely chokes us, how will we ever really see the flames that will devour us? I’ve been caught up with the symptoms of the real heart-issue of the church instead of the issue itself, and I believe keeping us wrapped up in the smoke-screen instead of the fire has been satan’s massive victory over the church – you just can’t go anywhere but around in circles until you get down to the core of it. But no one wants to look at that. It’s not comfortable. It’s scary. Truth is scary. Satan does well at keeping us in bondage through our fear of knowing the truth. And it isn’t even about the truth, is it… it’s about how different the truth might be from what we know now.

I’m beginning to be at a loss for words over it all, and because I haven’t been nearly as focused on Jesus, on life, but on trivial controversy, I’ve had nothing to sustain me. It’s a hard transition, because “comfortable” isn’t good enough anymore, and I know it. It feels like it’s time to move on, to snip those last ties and just dive completely into Jesus.

Tears (Encounters I)

Crimson tears were all she cried. They fell to stain the dirty carpet of her room. It was all she could do to forget–or was she simply fighting the comfort of feeling? Her brother was dead. Her sister also; she died in her arms–the poor fragile thing. She had tried to stop them but in the end the only gain had been more scars, and blood which was not her own. And then they had raped her there in her sister’s blood. Her father was beating her mother when he wasn’t drunk, and beating her when he was. Her mother blamed her, continually reminding her that she had ruined this family and caused the death of her siblings–nobody would even say ‘murder’. But she couldn’t leave, and that’s what no one understood; she just couldn’t.

I don’t want to die–

I want to feel alive.

Her eyes were dry and she wept all the more, the dirty-yellow streetlamp outside the window casting an ugly yellow glow onto the floor in front of her. Oh for just one touch of the cold moon. But there was nothing left now. She didn’t want to die; she wanted to be alive. She had lived this way for as long as she could remember, sometimes living at home, sometimes on the streets, sometimes with her uncle who had taken her innocence and damaged it almost as often as her own father had. She pressed the blade a little further and though she winced a little, the pain never lasted long. She was desperate; she needed to feel.

I don’t care anymore–

No one even knows my name.

It was getting late–even for her. Sleep rested heavily on her tortured eyelids and threatened her waking conscious. But she wouldn’t sleep, not now. She needed to wrap the fresh inflictions she had opened; the blood had already begun to dry. she would do no more tonight, but had it ever felt good–relieving–fulfilling. Relief existed only in each cut. It didn’t take long to wrap her arms. She ran her fingers over the thin bandages and the scars of various ages. She didn’t care who saw anymore; no one even knew her name.

Lauren–

Show me your scars.

“April.” She started, hurriedly pulling the loose sleeves of her hoodie–a form of apparel Webster’s still hadn’t given the proper assertion to–down over the bandages and the scars. “Lovely April…” She was sitting in the middle of the floor facing the door, yet the speaker was behind her. She didn’t turn around.

“But no one knows my name?” It was a question to herself and she only thought it, but the calm male voice from behind answered all the same.

“I know your name,” he whispered, seemingly almost from within her head. Still she did not turn around, but subconsciously was glad for her hair which covered the scars across the back of her neck. “Lauren April Mason… Show me your scars.”

I can’t let you see–

Then let me show you mine.

She turned around finally, slowly at first. Young–somewhere in his mid-thirties, she guessed–he was kneeling but a few feet behind her, dressed simply in a light plaid long-sleeved button-up t-shirt, and weathered blue jeans. His skin was rough but his eyes were kind and something else–love? She had never seen eyes like that. “Show me your scars,” he repeated himself.

“I can’t let you see,” she replied, pulling her sleeves down further. That look in his eyes, it went right through her, but she couldn’t wear her scars in front of the one who knew her name.

“Then let me show you my scars.”

By my wounds, Lauren–

Not your own.

Till now she hadn’t taken notice of his hands, but now he moved them toward her, gesturing, and she couldn’t help but be a little curious. There in the center of each palm was a deep piercing which may have gone even completely through his hands. And then she looked up to his face and saw now–though she had not before–the marks on his brow and the scars where the flesh had been torn away. And now he took her hand in his much larger and she felt the scar in his palm. And he brought her hand gently to his side and she felt the ancient wound there. He rested his hand on her shoulder.

“You’re alive by my wounds Lauren… not your own.”

You know my name?

I created you.

“Who are you? How do you know my name?” she inquired, unable to take her eyes off the scar in his hand. “You don’t know me directly, but I’ve known you all my life–and it’s been a while,” He smiled warmly, and she thought she caught a comical twinkle in his eye.

“That doesn’t even make sense–you’ve got to be like thirty years older than me,” She thought he must be crazy.

“Not to you, but it’s true all the same,” And she knew it was. “I know all about you Lauren. I know your name because I created you.”

I’ve seen everything you’ve done–

Now let me see your scars.

She shrugged his hand off her shoulder. She’d heard things like this before growing up in Sunday school, but now she wasn’t sure what to think.

“Where have you been when I needed you? Where were you when my sister was dead in my arms and they came after me while I was still soaked in her blood? When I’m on the street? Where are you when Uncle and my–my father are…” he brought his finger to her lips in a gesture of silence,

“Whether you believe it or not Lauren, I’ve always been with you. I’ve seen every moment of your life from the time you were conceived to now. I’ve seen all the things that have inspired those wounds. I’ve seen everything you’ve done. But you live in a broken world, and you don’t see me as I want you to see me. But I came to give you an opportunity to see me as I would have you see me always–and forever! Now… let me see your scars,” he replied tenderly. She turned around again to face the opposite wall. She wanted to–maybe–but she couldn’t. She wouldn’t be that weak.

I just want to hold you…

I just want to be held!

“Lauren… let me heal your wounds. I mean only the best for you,” she glanced back at his face; his eyes were entreating–pleading with her to break—and she wouldn’t. How could she? Her only comfort, her only measure of being alive–of living–was the pain and the blood, and yet she was ashamed to stand before her creator with these selfish mutilations. How could she open them up? She couldn’t. “Stop fighting it Lauren. You are accepted the way you are–I accept you… I just want to hold you!”

“I just want to be held!” her will broke and she turned around. Tears like tiny crystals welled up in her eyes though she tried with a last standing effort to keep them back.

“Let them go Lauren, they are your healing.”

I’m not just your creator–

You’re my Father.

She fell on his neck; she couldn’t help but. He embraced her, his huge arms encompassing her; she had never felt so safe. She clung to his neck and wept on his shoulder. It came hard at first; she wanted to fight it, to stop these tears, but the more that the warmth from his heart radiated into her, the less control she had.

“It’s alright, let it all come out,” his voice was even softer now in her ear, and the tears only came harder and more freely.

“Please don’t leave me,” she choked, the tears finally slowing a little.

“I will never leave nor forsake you, Lauren, my promise hasn’t changed even in two thousand years,” he soothed, “be still now.” Her sobs slowed and she raised her head to meet his eyes with hers. “I’m not just your creator, Lauren…”

“You’re my Father,” she declared quietly and then, “Okay… I’m ready.”

What about your scars?

Forever.

She slowly pulled back both sleeves of her hoodie to reveal the bandages and the scars. He stroked her black hair back from her face gently, revealing the countless marks of abuse.

“The men in your life have hurt you; your spine was out of place and would have caused you much pain because of what they did to you. It is better now,” and she had felt the vertebrae coming together into their correct places once again. Lovely Lauren. “Your healing begins,” he said, “Your scars will heal–”

“What about your scars?” she cut him off

“My scars will never heal; they will remain forever, to remind you of my love for you–I do love you, Lauren.” Forever? That meant forever loved. Forever.

You’re beautiful–

Don’t be ashamed any more.

He touched her arm, felt her scars. She wanted to pull it back, hide her shame within her sleeves. He laid his other hand on her shoulder,

“Stop fighting it. I accept you, Lauren. I accept you with your scars, new and old, self-inflicted and those given you by others. I made you. I never wanted this to happen to you, but I have a new body waiting for you without spot or blemish; the body I purposed you for.” The tears began to seep from the corners of her eyes again, and he wrapped his huge, strong arms around her again. “You are safe. You are free. You are beautiful–don’t be ashamed anymore.” She wept with full abandon, no desire left to control it. This was healing; this was life.

Don’t leave me alone!

I never have.

She knew it. With him she felt it could be true; she could be beautiful, if not for these scars… but perhaps it was like he had said about his own. Perhaps the scars were only a reminder of what she had overcome; the healing that she had only begun. She could almost feel the shame melting away within her, and she was free. Completely free!

“It’s time for me to go. You are beautiful Lauren, my love makes you so. Remember that,” he said, lifting her head and stroking back the hair again from her small face. She looked into his eyes. Love emanated from those eyes.

“Please don’t leave me alone,” she pleaded. He smiled.

“I never have Lauren, not once.”

He was gone, and she only now noticed how much brighter the room had been while he was there. I never have Lauren, not once. Could it be true? And then, yes… She knew it was, just as she had known every word he had spoken was true. And she could almost hear his voice now,

“I’m always here with you Lauren,”

Always

The Desert Priest

I realized something the other day as I was listening to the gospel of Luke.

John the Baptist was born into the Levitical priest-hood. According to Luke 1:5 his father Zacharias was a priest of the order of Abijah, and as if that were not enough, his mother Elizabeth was also of the line of Aaron.

I find this seeming little detail groundbreaking. Not only was John born of parents both of the levitical priesthood, but he is their first and only child, a miracle in their old age. Can you just envision the implications of this? Let’s take a look at the story in Luke 1:5-25:

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.

23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

                     – Luke 1:5-25 [NKJV]

Don’t miss verse six; “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

Zacharias (whose name means “remembered of Jehovah“) and Elizabeth (whose name means “oath of God“) represent the Law. They are righteous, blameless – they’ve kept all the commandments and ordinances of God–not to mention they have the very blood of Aaron’s sons and daughters in their veins.

And in its old age, the Law bears a son, and God calls Himself a gracious God, for John’s name means “Jehovah is a gracious giver“.

And John’s ministry? Preparing the way of the Lord in Israel:

14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”   

– Luke 1:14-17

John is the forerunner of the Christ, and this is why it is so important that John is a priest of the old covenant, because the Christ is the very personage of the new covenant, and it is only right that the lesser levitical priest herald in the greater Melchizedekian (Psalm 110:4) Priest–the High Priest of the order of the King of Righteousness!

I did a brief search to find out just who Abijah–Zacharias’ priestly predecessor–was. Abijah was the head of the eighth of twenty-four divisions made by King David in the priesthood (1 Chr. 24:10) and interestingly (though perhaps not prominent to us at this point), Abijah’s division didn’t return from the Babylonian Captivity (Ezra 2:36–39, Neh. 7:39–42).

Now let’s take a look at John’s birth:

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”

61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.

63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

– Luke 1:57-66

John’s coming was to mark a pivotal point for God’s people–the triumph of grace over law. Everyone wanted to call the new baby after his father, but finally in faith Zacharias declared the name which Gabriel had given – Jehovah is a gracious giver! His mouth was reopened and seeing the glory of God’s grace, the Law praised.

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

– Luke 1:67-80

I’m curious to know if anywhere before this the Spirit of God was said to fill someone rather than rest upon them; I recently heard that this was a difference between the old covenant and the new, that in the new covenant the Spirit of God dwells within rather than resting upon as is so often described of the Spirit in the Old Testament. The difference of a preposition–in instead of on. I haven’t verified that in any way to know how accurate it is, but if true it would seem that already there was a shift taking place as Zacharias became filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied over his son, the forerunner of the new covenant, whom Gabriel also declared would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even in the womb.

So John’s ministry was this: to prepare the ways of the Lord, to give Israel a knowledge of a new means of salvation, to give light to those in darkness, and to be a guide into the way of peace. In short, to prepare the way for Jesus Christ, the Messiah. And in John it is almost as though we see a mixture of old and new covenant, but John was no pseudo-covenant. He was the forerunner of the new covenant, preached the promise of salvation and baptized the people in water as a sign of faith and public act of repentance, and his lineage was of the levitical priesthood both by his mother and father, giving authority to his agreement with the coming of the Fulfillment of the old covenant, Jesus.

And in John’s (the disciple) gospel, when his disciples come questioning him about Jesus who has just begun a baptism ministry nearby, John the Baptist makes this declaration about Jesus:

27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

            – John 3:27-36

He says, “I’m not the Christ,” for the Christ could not bring about a change of priesthood and be of the levitical line of priests, and “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Because the old covenant was ready to be laid to rest. And finally John declares the new covenant: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life,” it’s always been that simple. And I don’t think that John’s desert-dwelling made him ignorant to the old way. He was the son of old-covenant priests! What do you suppose they taught him growing up? The Law. And his ministry was in part the same as that purpose of the law, to give knowledge of sin. But again his ministry was also “Jehovah is a gracious giver,” salvation and forgiveness through belief in Jesus.

To end, Jesus said this about John in Luke 7:

24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written:

‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’

28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

– Luke 7:24-28

Among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. 

Jesus wasn’t downplaying John, he was saying “Hey, John is the greatest man–there’s no greater human prophet than John.” But he also denotes something important: the least of the citizens of the kingdom of God are greater than John, and we know that this is because they are born of God Himself. John is the final piece in the old-covenant puzzle, and his purpose is to prepare the way for the new covenant Himself, Jesus. John is the greatest man in old covenant terms, righteous and blameless, born of righteous and blameless parents, he has abstained from wine and all other alcoholic drinks his entire life and his diet consists of locust and honey.

But after John came something, foreshadowed by the old ways, yet completely different:

The kingdom of God.