John, the harbinger, again visits Jerusalem. Speaks to the people. Promises to meet them at Gilgal in seven days. Goes to Bethany and attends a feast.
2 Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king.
3 The chief priests and the scribes would know the meaning of his words; they said.
4 Bold man, what is the purport of this message that you bring to Israel? If you be seer and prophet tell us plainly who has sent you here?
5 And John replied, I am the voice of one who cries out in the wilderness, Prepare the way, make straight the paths, for, lo, the Prince of Peace will come to rule in love.
6 Your prophet Malachi wrote down the words of God:
7 And I will send Elijah unto you before the retribution day shall come, to turn again the hearts of men to God, and if they will not turn, lo, I will smite them with a curse.
8 You men of Israel; you know your sins. As I passed by I saw a wounded bird prone in your streets, and men of every class were beating it with clubs; and then I saw that Justice was its name.
9 I looked again and saw that its companion had been killed; the pure white wings of Righteousness were trampled in the dust.
10 I tell you men, your awfulness of guilt has made a cesspool of iniquity that sends a fearful stench to heaven.
11 Reform, O Israel, reform; prepare to meet your king.
12 And then John turned away and as he went he said,
13 In seven days, lo, I will stand at Gilgal, by the Jordan ford, where Israel first crossed into the promised land.
14 And then he left the temple court to enter it no more; but many people followed him as far as Bethany, and there he tarried at the home of Lazarus, his kin.
15 The anxious people gathered all about the home and would not go; then John came forth and said,
16 Reform, O Israel, reform; prepare to meet your king.
17 The sins of Israel do not all lie at the door of priest and scribe. O think you not that all the sinners of Judea are found among the rulers and the men of wealth.
18 It is no sign that man is good and pure because he lives in want.
19 The listless, shiftless vagabonds of earth are mostly poor and have to beg for bread.
20 I saw the very men that cheered because I told the priests and scribes of their injustice unto man, throw stones and beat poor Justice in the streets.
21 I saw them trample on the poor dead bird of Righteousness;
22 And you who follow after me,you commoners, are not one whit behind the scribes and priests in crime.
23 Reform, you men of Israel; the king has come; prepare to meet your king.
24 With Lazarus and his sisters, John remained for certain days.
25 In honour of the Nazarite a feast was spread, and all the people stood about the board.
26 And when the chief men of the town poured out the sparkling wine and offered John a cup, he took it, held it high in air, and said,
27 Wine makes glad the carnal heart, and it makes sad the human soul; it plunges deep in bitterness and gall the deathless spirit of the man.
28 I took the vow of Nazar when a child, and not a drop has ever passed my lips.
29 And if you would make glad the coming king, then shun the cup as you would shun a deadly thing.
30 And then he threw the sparking wine out in the street.