For now, we see through a glass darkly, but then we will see face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12
The danger of reading the bible in snippets – searching for proof texts to buttress faith or piety – is that we create an unrealizable (and unrealized) version of what Jesus-followers should be. Spend some time instead wallowing in biblical stories; they’re refreshingly gritty. People do horrible things, fail one another and God, bungle, trip, doubt, fear and generally make a mess of things. (I don’t want to glorify debasement; I do want to be reminded that God can only redeem those who recognize they are debased.) One imagines Jesus banging his head on a lintel because, yet again, his disciples are stubborn, obtuse, vain and self-centered. We easily forget that after years of intimacy with Jesus, after healings and teachings and long days traveling, eating, sleeping and working together, they all (at first) completely miss the message, which means they missed him.
Even John the Baptist, created to ‘make straight the path’ for Jesus, wavered and wondered in the end. Remember that when John was born his father said of him, “And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” Later in the gospels we see John preaching in the desert, eating bugs and honey, cut from the cloth of the Old Testament prophets – wild, unruly and true. When John saw Jesus he simply knew, could not doubt; “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John baptized Jesus, setting him on the path to Golgotha. He then thunders to all who would listen of repentance and a new kingdom, a kingdom Jesus would bring. No one was more likely to get it right.
And yet, shockingly, after John is arrested and jailed we hear the following question from him to Jesus: