Focus the Spotlight
“Hamilton” is the hottest ticket on Broadway this season. For Christmas my oldest son’s family gave Mary and me the CD with the gorgeous score and all the clever rap. I’ve already mentioned in one of our Devos how Lin-Maurel Miranda, the writer of the musical, came to New York City as an immigrant from the Caribbean. Alexander Hamilton, an orphan and an illegitimate child, did the same. Both came to New York City because they believed it was the greatest city in the world, the city where you could become a new man.
It’s impossible to get a ticket for this show so I checked out some of the promotions on YouTube. There’s Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, his friend. The spotlight carefully highlights Hamilton. He’s the star. After all, the musical is named “Hamilton,” not “Burr.” At the beginning of the story Burr mentors his young protégé, but then his ego spurns his friend. The tragic plot moves towards the climax where Burr uses his pistol in a duel to take Hamilton’s life.
It’s tough for two gifted friends not to be destroyed by envy. It’s especially tough when you’re assigned the secondary role and your job is to shine the spotlight on the star. This is what makes the story of John the Baptist so extraordinary. John’s ministry took off. The crowds swelled in admiration, but when it was time for Jesus, God’s Son, to begin His public ministry, John the Baptist, turned all the lights off himself and focused everyone’s attention on Jesus. Luke tells the story like this:
“When expectation was running high among the people, and in their hearts all were wondering about John, ‘Could he not be the Messiah?’ John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. There’s coming One who is stronger than I. In fact I’m not even worthy to untie the straps on His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to clean out His threshing floor and to gather the grain into His barn. But the chaff will be burned up with unquenchable fire.’” - Luke 3:15-17
King David began the hymn book of Israel in Psalm 1 using this imagery of a threshing floor where the wicked are the chaff blown away by God’s judgment. David ends the Psalm declaring that the wicked will not stand in the Day of Judgment. Psalm 2 goes on to tell us that God will call one of David’s sons, His Son, and He would rule over all the nations. He would be the judge who would decide our destiny. John’s job was to shine the spotlight totally on Jesus, and that is what he did.
Later in Luke’s narrative we will discover what it means for Jesus to baptize those who believe in Him with the Holy Spirit and how the fire of judgment is completely in Jesus’ hand. At this point in the story we need to see John’s humble spirit and his ability to shine the spotlight solely on Jesus. This is the example that can conquer the jealousy and covetousness that can cause close friends to end up dueling, a duel that in Burr and Hamilton’s life led to death. Let’s keep the spotlight solely on Jesus who has the power to make us new.
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