John the Baptist is a loser too!

Anthony Le Donne wrote a brief blog post reminding readers that the values of powerful men like Donald Trump contradict those of people we claim to admire, like Jesus of Nazareth (see Jesus is a Socialist Loser). This reminded me of this quote from D.C. Allision, Jr. that I shared a couple weeks ago, where he relays this claim made by Jürgen Becker: 

...no one engaged the attention of Jesus as throughly as did John the Baptist—no on from Israel’s past (for example, Abraham, Moses, David, or one of the prophets), no one from among the contemporaries of Jesus.
Carvaggio's Salomè con testa del Battista (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Carvaggio's Salomè con testa del Battista (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

And I agree with Becker, though I may be biased. But it is important to note that if Jesus is to be judged a loser by our modern, capitalist American standards, the same is to be said of the man who greatly influenced Jesus. In the Synoptic Tradition, John is executed by the order of Herod Antipas (Mk. 6:14-29; Mt. 14:1-12; Lk. 9:7-9). While the Evangelists present John as a man with a divine commission, beloved by the common people (Mt. 21:25-32/Lk. 20:1-8), and Josephus claimed something similar, arguing they'd listen to anything John said (Ant. 19.116-119), there is no evidence he was a friend of the elite. There were those who wanted John dead and those people were the "winners" of the day. In the Lukan tradition John is basically a modern socialist telling people of privilege to redistribute their wealth to those in need (3:7-13). John would be more despised today than he was in his own.

While I won't deny that there are important differences of time and place between John, Jesus, and us moderns, I will echo Anthony's important point: we must ask how it is that we admire the crucified and beheaded "losers" of history while many of the people we admire today would probably kill both John and Jesus afresh if they were able.