As we contemplate John the Baptist’s birthday on June 24 each year, it is helpful to read what is recorded in the Bible about him. This is what I wrote in my series Secrets of the Christian Festivals now available on Amazon.
“In those days came John the Baptist, 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.” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” Matthew 3:1-6
The first question to ask is why Judea? We find the answer in the meaning of the name. Judea means ‘praise Jehovah’ and Jehovah is the god who held our I Am for us until we were able to receive it into ourselves. Many things become clear if we think about this while reading about Jehovah in the Old Testament. One of the first things that we realize is that by praising Jehovah we praise the human being. In fact, we praise ourselves for what we will become when we take our I Am into ourselves and use it personally as God intended.
How are we to come to a point of valuing ourselves rightly in a world that warns us about overestimating our self-importance? As children we are taught that the other person is more important and that we should not be selfish. In fact, any child who thinks that they are important is often bullied. This can cause us to under-value ourselves which plays right into the hands of the anti-forces. To rightly value ourselves is to be in Judea. We praise Jehovah because we praise the I Am which we will gradually integrate into ourselves and become gods as St John said in his Gospel.
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? John 10:34
Furthermore, we will hold in highest esteem each and every human being because they too are becoming gods. Without the work of John the Baptist this would not be possible.
Baptism by Pieter de Grebber