John smiled as he looked around his home, the inhabitable hostile environment had become a place of refuge for him. It was here in this dark cave, away from the crowds and family expectations, that he had been prepared for what he was about to embark on. He looked around with some sorrow in his heart for he knew that he would miss this place. As he prepared to leave he reflected upon the journey that had brought him to this place.
His wonderful and loving parents took great delight in telling him, every birthday, about his miraculous entry into the world. They had both given up hope of ever having children until a visit from an angel told his father, Zechariah, that his mother, Elizabeth, would soon conceive a boy and that he was to be called John (Jehovah is gracious), for God had heard their prayers and was now answering them. John’s mother would laugh each time his father humbly recalled how he doubted that it could happen. John’s mother would say it was wonderfully quiet when his father was unable to speak and then they would all smile and laugh.
When John had been presented at the temple his father was given the ability to speak and had prophesied over John:
‘Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has extended to us His amazing grace. He has visited and redeemed His people.
He has sent us a mighty Saviour, One who will rise up in strength and fight for us. The promise made to David has been fulfilled and the prophet’s words from long ago will now unfold. The covenant made with Abraham now is revealed, oh how merciful and faithful God is!
What a glorious day for now we will be saved from our enemies and those who despise us. We can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness we bow down to the only One who can save, may we serve Him faithfully for all of our days.
You, my precious son, will be called the prophet of the Most High and you will prepare the way for the great Redeemer. You will tell people how to find salvation and turn their hearts to repentance.
God’s tender mercy is extended to us and the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us. This Light will shine on those who sit in the darkness, pulling them from the shadow of death and guiding them along the path of perfect peace.’ (Luke 1:76-77 paraphrased)
John had memorised every word that his father had declared that day because each time he heard it something had stirred deep within him and now he knew it was time to act.
John’s appearance, clothes woven from course camel hair, and strange eating habits, wild honey and locusts, should have turned people away but his words struck at their hearts:
“Prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord Yahweh” Mark 1:3 (TPT)
“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” Matthew 3:2 (NLT)
People flooded to him from Jerusalem, Judea and all over the Jordan Valley to listen to him speak. When people repented John would baptise then in the Jordan River. His following stirred the interests of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but they did not appreciate him calling them a ‘brood of snakes’; they were outraged that John did not respect their ties to Abraham and that he dared to even say that their lineage would not matter to God; they had almost dragged John away when he referred to them as being chaff and that God was ready to separate the chaff from the wheat, that God would then clean up the threshing floor and burn the chaff with an never-ending fire (Matthew 3:1-15).
They became so outraged that they tried to turn people away from listening to John, however, no matter how hard they tried people kept flooding in to hear John’s message, just as the prophet had foretold the messenger prepared the way:
“The Coming Day of Judgment: ‘Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Malachi 3:1 (NLT)
The people were stirred into a great excitement and expectation for John often referred to another that was coming. One who would be greater and more powerful, who would come and baptise them with the Holy Spirit:
“There is a man coming after me who is greater and a lot more powerful than I am. I’m not even worthy to bend down and untie the strap of his sandals. I’ve baptized you into water, but he will baptize you into the Spirit of Holiness!” Mark 1:1-8 (TPT)
Then suddenly the day arrived, John was baptising people and sharing the Good News when suddenly Jesus appeared. He waded into the water and walked up to John ‘hey cousin’, Jesus embraced John as the crowd stood watching. John embraced Jesus with tears in his eyes ‘oh it is good to see You.’
Jesus stepped back and said ‘please baptise me’
John looked at Him puzzled ‘but I need to be baptised by You’
Jesus smiled ‘it must be done, for we all have to be obedient to God and follow His commands.’
John’s heart filled with deep revelation and understanding, and he nodded. As John lowered Jesus into the water words flowed from his mouth with great reverence and awe ‘I baptise You in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’
As Jesus came up from the water He smiled at John, then stepped away a little and prayed. Suddenly the heavens opened, the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove and the voice of God declared:
“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me such delight and great joy.”
The article Who Was John the Baptist? By Wayne Jackson is a fascinating read, if you’d like to know more about the amazing man here is the link: www.christiancourier.com
The baptism of Jesus can be found in Luke :21-22, Matthew 3:13-17 and Mark 1:9-11. See more details at BibleStudyTools.com.