advent 3: courage!

Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John:

"What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?
A reed shaken by the wind?

What then did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in soft robes?
Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.

What then did you go out to see?
A prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (Matthew 11.7-9)

I'd never thought much about John being Jesus' cousin, maybe because I didn't grow up with cousins. But I imagine at their best cousins are somewhere between less-demanding siblings and more-familiar friends.

The gospels say little about Jesus' childhood, but it seems likely that John and Jesus would have played together, fought over one thing or another, and maybe, as they grew older, discussed ideas and shared their own hopes and fears.

I get the sense that John was the dare-devil of the family. The wild cousin, striding out into the desert sun, roughing it on locusts and bees' honey, and enthralling both the crowds and Jesus. John held his younger cousin to account, urging him on, keeping it real. A true trailblazer for Jesus.

In our lives, if we are lucky, there are people like John. People who believe in us. People who keep us up to the mark. People who don't let us become lazy. People who make us bold. Perhaps we are that person for someone we love too.

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