John expects… anticipates…
For John what is about to unfold – God in Jesus – is decisive.
John’s Jesus clearly carries a threat.
“Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming?”
“Even now the axe is laid to the tree so that any tree which fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire.”🔥
“His winnowing fan is in his hand, he will clear his threshing floor…”
So how did this threat unfold in real life back then?
How did this “retribution” as John calls it unfold?
How was the tree cut down and thrown on the fire? Bearing in mind that we’re not really talking about a tree but about real people whom the tree represents – a people to be cut down and thrown on the fire.
How was the wheat separated from the chaff in the lived experience of the people back then? In their history?
I’d say they hardly noticed it happening or that it had happened… and that’s my point!
So, while the language and the images are strong, at times scathing, the threat unfolded in the lives of the people very gently, almost imperceptibly.
In fact it was so gentle that many probably didn’t even realize that it had happened!
This human imperceptibility is one of the signs of God’s greatness.
What happened was that they missed the significance of Jesus… they didn’t connect with him… they didn’t grasp his identity. He went over their heads so to speak.
They just went on doing what they had always been doing.
And in so many places… spaces… hearts and minds… the same pattern will reemerge this coming Christmas.
But God will have been and gone!
Indeed, the kingdom of God is always close at hand.
Finally… empty pews and empty churches – a sign of the death of religion or a people being cut down and thrown on the fire?
Do you really think that God is no longer active?
There’s only one response to that 😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣