The artist who painted this picture of John the Baptist preaching near the Jordan river obviously had no idea of what Palestine and the place of John’s ministry looked like, but he got the story right anyway, I think.
The people listening to John are surrounded by an over-powering wilderness. They’re on their way to Jerusalem, but will they ever get there? There are no well marked trails in sight, no civilized world close by for food and lodging. Only a man preaching to them.
Our readings today from the Old and New Testament point out Elijah and John the Baptist as guides God sent to care for his people, the vine he planted. There were guides then and there will always be guides.
John sent those who listened to him in the wilderness on their way. He baptized them with water and pointed out the path. His words were food for their spirits and brought joy to their hearts. They’ll find their way.
We’ll have guides too.