14: The Baptism of Jesus
One day, as John stood on the bank of the Jordan, he saw Jesus of Nazareth approaching. He eyes shone with joy, for he had heard about Jesus from his mother. He knew about the wonders that had surrounded Jesus' birth. John wanted to believe his mother when she told him that Jesus was the Messiah.
When Jesus declared that He, too, wished to be baptized, John was taken aback. He was puzzled. Must John baptize the King, the Holy One? No, that he would not do. After all, the Christ did not need a new heart; He had never committed a single sin. How could the Christ undergo such a humiliation? How could He allow Himself to be baptized just like a sinner?
John steadfastly refused. Reverently he said to Jesus: "I should be baptized by You instead.
Why do You come to me for baptism?"
Jesus insisted. He wanted to be reckoned among sinners, for He was to be like other people in all things. If the people were being baptized, He, the head of the people, would also be baptized.
The people had come to John bearing the sins they had committed, but Jesus wanted to bear the sins of the entire world. Jesus was willing to suffer this great humiliation to bring happiness to His people. He said to John, "I must be baptized, for in this way we will carry out God's will fully."
John hesitated, but finally obeyed. He went into the water with Jesus and baptized Him the same way that sinful tax- collectors and godless soldiers were baptized.
When Jesus came up again something wonderful happened. It cleared away all John's doubts.
The blue sky suddenly opened. A blinding light fell upon the earth. In that heavenly light the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a shining white dove and settled upon Jesus. John heard a voice from heaven that said, "This is My beloved Son in whom I take pleasure."
At that moment John knew for certain that Jesus was the Messiah. He knew because God had once said to him, "The one on whom you see the Spirit descend—He is the one." Now John had seen how God used the Spirit to anoint Jesus the King.
John had lived for this King and worked for His coming. Although he did not feel worthy to untie the King's shoes, he had been allowed to baptize Him in the Jordan!
John watched in delight as Jesus walked away into the stillness of the wilderness. He saw Jesus disappear beyond the rocks. He knew that his work as forerunner would soon be done. The King had finally come!
The people would quickly turn to Christ, and John would be forgotten. That didn't matter to John. "I must now become less," John thought, "because He must grow in power and glory."
John called the people together again. His eyes were shining with joy as he cried out to them happily, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has come!"