Struggling lines of people were lifting their knee out into the Jordan to be baptized by John. Some of them were calling out their sins, while others were calling out questions.
Like, the tax men were asking what they had to do to please God, and John calling back to them, saying, “Don’t charge them a penny more than what is right.” Or, soldiers were asking what they had to do to please God, and John had two things to say to them: he said, “ Don’t bully people,” and he said, “Learn to live within your wages.”
We can imagine that people found that too plain. Having travelled for days to question the super holy man, they would have expected something more spiritual, like fasting on bread and water, or meditating on mountaintops.
But John was God’s voice, and he was saying what God wants is for all his human children to get along by each of them doing his or her duty, and by observing the Golden Rule.
At Christmas time a lady I know wanted to send good wishes to a hard working office mate. Instead of finding something from Hallmark, she showed her appreciate by wrapping up and giving her a framed poem entitled “To Be of Use.” The shortest of its four verses says:
I love people who harness themselves, like oxen, to heavy carts,
Who pull like water buffalo with massive patience,
Who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
Who do what has to be done, again and again.