Heat burned. The sun baked, destroyed. The water was all the more delightful in contrast. Fasting until hunger died, water never failed to give joy. I dunked them all. I took all who came, and turned them round, washed off the past, set them on track to become true children of the father-of-us-all Abraham. I was so wide, so radical in my acceptance. Nobody fell outside the scope of my message. Collaborators, extortioners – I told them all they could live a life as acceptable to God as the next man.
But it was a balanced message. I did full justice to the demands of Heaven for radical purity. I told them all to repent. I spoke of the one who would come. I spoke of the joy of his gathering in those who I was winnowing clean, but I also spoke of the terror of fire. I spoke of the destruction of evil.
Now I turn to and fro, to and fro, pacing this small cell. For I thought I knew the one who was coming after and he has let me down. Where is the radical purity? Where is the constant demand for repentance, the new life? Fire? Fire?
He forgives, not the Heavenly One, him – alright, I offered a new start, but in return for repentance. He just – he just offers it. He gives it away free. He cheapens it. He cheapens the Lord.
I offered them cool out of the fire, I gave them water and cleansing, and I gave to all who were sorry. I hear tonight he went to the house of a self righteous Pharisee, who would never recognise how his own wealth was an affront, and he had a common tart draped over his feet, and he just sat there, stuffing his face and talking about how they were all forgiven. And not one word of judgement, not one. This one offers no fire of any kind, nothing to burn up, transform, consume.
And yet, and yet. Some things that he says chime true as a bell. Some things that he does. So I pace here, waiting, waiting for my disciples to report back. My heart sinks. I had thought I would not die before I saw the One Who Is To Come.
Is this self-indulgent one with his easy words, that One? Would it be better or worse if he was?