MY NAME IS JOHN. ACCORDING to my parents, my birth was a miracle. My mother was past bearing and my father was also quite old. An angel appeared to my father while he was serving as priest in the temple and told him he was going to have a son. My father couldn’t believe this good news and so was struck dumb by the angel until my birth. The angel also gave him my name, and when he wrote it on a tablet at my birth, his tongue was loosened and he prophesied saying that I was to go before the LORD and prepare his way.
I didn’t have many playmates when I was growing up. Sometimes my mother’s cousin, Mary, and my little cousin, Jesus, would pay us a visit. Jesus and I played together and always got along well. In my teenage years, I began to feel the call of the LORD God upon my life in a very special way. I felt I had to go somewhere to be alone with God, so I went out into the wilderness. As I prayed and became quiet before the LORD, I began to have a very real consciousness of sin, first in my own life and then in the lives of those around me. I repented of my own sins– sins of thought and attitude mostly. When I did so, I felt a real sense of the presence of the LORD. I prayed and asked him to help others to repent as I had. It was then that he told me he had called me for that purpose. I was to go and cry out to the people, telling them to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. As I preached, many were touched and came forward to register repentance. Then, my lord showed me that this was not enough. I was to baptize all of those who registered sincere repentance. All of this was new to me. But I followed the LORD’s leading at every point. He began to also impress upon me that my preaching and baptism was to serve only as a preparation for, or fore-running of, the one who was to come, the true Messiah. Somehow I had the feeling that it was to be none other than he with whom I had played as a child.
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