Be careful when desperate
Luke 3:15 “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.”
We cannot fail to be moved with sympathy for these people.
Herod the tetrarch was working on the rebuilding of the temple, aspiring to take the title of his father, ‘the king of the jews’.
But no Herod would be their king, only the prophesied Messiah.
There had been other rebel leaders who had risen against the Roman oppression and who could have been the Messiah but only brought disappointment.
Simon of Peraea (c 4 BC) and Athronges (c. 4-2 BC) were 2 such leaders who tried to bring down the Romans but failed.
So here comes John, charismatic and drawing crowds, even tax collectors and soldiers. Perhaps … maybe … is this the one?
When you are desperate for help, then the newest kid on the block, the trendiest most powerful-looking, crowd-pulling multi-gifted man/woman of God could be the real deal and the answer to your prayers! Whether in the first century or 2019 the same applies.
John the Baptist looked like he could have been what they were longing for.
He was certainly close to what they needed.
In our desperation for a change in circumstances and in our longing for the divine we can put ourselves in the vulnerable position of chasing after things that look like the real thing but are only signs and messengers of the true.