The people sent by the Jerusalem wore their vestments uncomfortably. For they had no authority: they were human automata, sent to do what they were ordered to. And that was to find our who John was.
For he was new, and the new frightened Jerusalem. They had Romans trying to put idols in the temple, knowing that but a few generations ago the Maccabbean revolt had been triggered by Greeks doing the same thing.
So they wanted everything to be religiously correct. They sent in the overly intelligent, with no worldly experience, with one purpose: put John neatly in a box within their theological model, so that he would then be able to be dealt with by that model.
Note that none of these men had their own authority. Instead, they had snark.
19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,'” as the prophet Isaiah said. 24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
I noted two things. John said that “among you” stands one who is greater than I. And you do not know him. It could have been metaphorical, but it could have been that Christ — who was John’s cousin — was there, watching.
Those who had no authority were standing with the one who had the ultimate authority, showing their fake virtue to the truly virtuous.
And their colours. It came out in the need for the final word. John has given his answer. But the ones sent by the Pharisees want to regulate his baptizing — for he is not the messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. unaware… that John was called by Christ the Elijah who was to come.
The bugmen work for the narrative, are snarky, subvert and add little. They hate those of Christ. They add little. They do not make. They criticize.
I would rather be around one that creates.
Better to do something, and then fix your errors, than be a bugman, sitting with your coffee and Foucault, letting your eternal soul shred itself as you signal virtue.