"The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “ Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven! ” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “ You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out. ”
Throughout the modern period, history has been the dominant lens through which preachers have viewed the biblical text. The historical-critical method--with its emphasis on the context of a scriptural text's origins--has been the principal, or sole, tool with which preachers have approached the question of the text's meaning. Preachers have been in danger of losing the Bible as revelation and with that losing the rich varieties of God-centered meanings that our ancient forebears understood were the purpose of Scripture. They devised multiple 'lenses' through which the preacher was enabled to study Scripture, seeking to find there the Spirit's word to the congregation.
Paul Wilson draws on the practice of patristic and medieval exegesis to inform the contemporary preacher's encounter with Scripture. He begins by examining what earlier exegetes meant by the 'literal' meaning, which, at its core, centered on the theological message that the text was intended to convey about the gospel. He then demonstrates how a critical and informed understanding of the 'spiritual' meanings of the text, rather than importing meaning into the text as is often claimed, opens new possibilities for a faithful proclamation of the biblical witness.