In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
At the height of wicked king Ahab’s reign, when Israel’s adulterous practices were spilling over, Elijah the Tishbite was sent by God to warn His people to ‘repent’. Similarly, during the time of King Herod when Israel was deep into apostasy and the traditions of men, John the Baptiser was sent by God to warn His people to ‘repent’. John had come after the order of the fearless Elijah.. administering a baptism of repentance and challenging the people to ‘repent, for the kingdom of God is near’. He came preaching in the Judean desert: “repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
It seems that Christ may have been going in and out among those that would one day become His disciples, ever since the intrepid prophet of God stormed onto the scene. Whenever it was that John and Jesus met in the waters of the Jordan River, it would be so memorable an occasion that it would be forever engraved upon John’s memory.
The two men as youngsters had no doubt heard of the miraculous birth of the other and whether or not they had become intimate in those intervening years, John was to be stunned by the revelation he had from Almighty God – when the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended on Jesus – and rested upon Him, and “This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased", rang in his ear.
John’s blistering words were designed to cut the sinner to the quick, and he was forthright in his condemnation of the proud Pharisees. “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come”, were his caustic words of contempt. But one day, this greatest of all prophets, who had baptised many (who in poverty of spirit had repented of their sins), was suddenly overwhelmed by the grossness of his own wickedness when the Lord Jesus walked into the water – to be baptised by John. It was in abject humility of heart and wretched bitterness of spirit that John must have whispered, “It is I who need to be baptised by You – how can You come to me?”
John indeed did need to be washed by the Lord – not only a baptism of repentance but a washing in the fountain of precious blood that flowed from Emmanuel’s severed veins – which alone can cleanse a filthy sinner from his sins and his old sin nature. But this prophet of God was of the house and linage of Levi and it was God’s purpose that His Beloved Son should be anointed High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek. "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness,” were Christ’s comforting words to His faithful herald – as together they entered the Jordan.
NO! – the baptism of the sinless Christ in the Jordan was not for His own sins, for He had none of which to repent – but He was to be the Saviour of the sinner, the Redeemer of the lost, and in this act of anointing, our Saviour deliberately identified Himself with your sin and mine. He identified Himself with all those He came to save.. as He went down into the waters of baptism.
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