John the Baptist: Forerunner & FullbackPosted: December 7, 2009
What’s a sermon without a football analogy? Yesterday I threw a homiletical bone to the guys in the congregation comparing John the Baptist with a fullback. And the more I think about this, the more convinced I am that we need to add this to his other titles: Forerunner, Preparer of the Way, the One Crying in the Wilderness.
Because John the Baptist is like the fullback who clears out the defenders to open a hole for the running back. He clears a path for the one who is to come. In today’s game fullbacks are often used as blockers in short-yardage situations. They’re the big, slow, muscular guys that power through the defensive line to create an opening for the running back.
A good fullback isn’t concerned about personal glory; there’s nothing glamorous about his job. You won’t read about his exploits in the next day’s Sports Section. But his teammates know his value. The star running back, if he’s smart, will take very good care of his fullback. Expensive gifts at Christmas help but mostly it’s just the acknowledgment of the vital role he plays in the team’s success.
And this is precisely what John the Baptist does for Jesus. He’s not the running back; he’s the fullback. He’s not the messiah; he’s the forerunner. He “prepares the way of the Lord” and “makes his paths straight.” He is not the light but he comes to testify to the light; he will decrease and Jesus will increase.
And there’s nothing subtle about his approach. Like the perfect fullback he’s not a finesse guy. It’s all about brute strength and driving his message home with a thunderous voice.
I won’t continue this analogy by referring to Jesus as a Spiritual Running Back; the Ladainian Tomlinson of Ancient Palestine. But if this helps you think about John the Baptist in a new way, my work is done here. And if you can no longer hear “Comfort, comfort ye my people” without thinking about football, well, that’s just a bonus.