The TV Show Kids Say the Darndest Things has been on the air for decades. The title of the show uses the word “darndest,” and that’s a catchy title, but what is the title really getting at? Well, take a look:
The word “darndest” is getting at the fact that kids have that wonderful quality of telling it like they see it. They speak the truth as they see it. Certainly kids can lie too. We parents and grandparents know about that. But when they are not trying to avoid getting punished for doing something bad, kids will usually tell the truth, as they see it. There is a wonderful innocence about kids, in how they just put it out there.
Earlier this week, my son in college texted our family group chat saying that in one of his classes that day he had learned that 1 + 1 = 1. If you ask a kid what 1 + 1 equals, they will eagerly tell you “2”. But something happens as we age, as we gain some experience in the world, as we learn about the complexity of relationships, and the reality of pain and loss. What once appeared so simple, so clear, can become more complex or confusing.
Case in point; 1 + 1 can equal 1, in the world of Boolean algebra, which is what my son is learning in one of his college classes. I’m not going to even begin to attempt to explain Boolean algebra. (Interested readers can learn how 1 + 1 = 1 here.) My point is that we can age out of that child-like truthfulness and clarity, in our good and helpful attempt to have a more nuanced view of our complex world. But we can go so far that we can lost in the weeds.
Have you ever known a person who is an over-analyzer? Maybe that is you. The person who evaluates seemingly endlessly, trying to cover all their bases, and all the what-ifs, and they can have a very hard time landing the plane, making a decision, or speaking clearly. My wife, rightly, tells me “Joel, you’re being vague. You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, and so you are being so vague that they don’t know what you are talking about. You need to be straight with people. Certainly with gracious kindness. But clear. Simple. Direct.” Kind of like the kids who say the darndest things.
This week we’re going to meet a rare adult who spoke boldly, clearly, and directly. A prophet named John, and we’re going to learn that he said the darndest things. We met him last week, briefly, but this week in our continuing study of the Gospel of John we’re going to focus on this prophet John. Let me try to be clear right now. I just mentioned the name John twice. The Gospel of John and the prophet John. Those are two different men, both who have the name John. The Gospel of John was written by one of Jesus’ disciples, who we call the Apostle John. But every time the Gospel of John mentions a man named John, it is talking about John the Prophet, or as you and I more familiarly call him, John the Baptist.
Please open your Bibles to John 1:19 and read verses 19-28 all about John the Baptist.
In verse 19, we read that John was giving a testimony. In the Gospel of John, we are going to hear numerous times about people giving testimony, and today we have the first person. A testimony is given by a witness, by someone who saw something and now they are telling us what they saw. John saw something amazing, and he is going to talk about it.
Before we go any further in verse 19, let’s travel down a little sidetrack to learn more about John the Baptist. Like I mentioned, we met John last week. If you glance back at verse 6, you read, “There came a man sent from God; his name was John.”
But that doesn’t tell us all that much about John. Where did he come from? If he was sent from God, it sure sounds like he was basically the same as Jesus. Was John the Messiah? As we heard in the reading, there were plenty of people, including the religious leaders in Jewish society who wanted to know who he was.
Check back to the next past as we learn the backstory of John the Baptist.