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Humble Hero

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    On the Edge of Revolution

    When the ministry of John began, the nation was moving toward revolution. Archelaus had been removed as king, and Judea had been brought directly under the control of Rome. The tyranny and extortion of the Roman governors and their efforts to introduce heathen symbols and customs kindled revolt, which had been quenched in the blood of thousands of Israel’s bravest.HH 40.4

    Amid the discord and strife, a voice spoke up in the wilderness, startling and stern yet full of hope: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” With a new, strange power, it moved the people. Here was an announcement that the coming of Christ was right upon them. With the spirit and power of Elijah, John denounced the national corruption and rebuked the prevailing sins. His words were pointed and convincing. The nation was stirred. Crowds flocked to the wilderness.HH 40.5

    John called the people to repentance. As a symbol of cleansing from sin, he baptized them in the waters of the Jordan. By doing so, he declared that those who claimed to be the chosen people of God were defiled by sin. Without purification of heart, they could have no part in the Messiah’s kingdom.HH 40.6

    Princes and rabbis, soldiers, tax collectors, and peasants came to hear the prophet. Many repented and received baptism in order to participate in the kingdom he announced.HH 40.7

    Many scribes and Pharisees came confessing their sins and asking for baptism. They had led the people to hold a high opinion of their piety, but now the guilty secrets of their lives were unveiled. But John was impressed that many of these men had no real conviction of sin. They were following their own self-interest. As friends of the prophet, they hoped to find favor with the coming Prince. And by receiving baptism, they thought they would strengthen their influence with the people.HH 40.8

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