13- Jesus Baptized
Where: Jordan River, Perea
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It was October of 27 AD [3787/780], and a new year. Jesus was 31 years of age, and was journeying from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Jesus planned to attend the Festival of Booths [Tabernacles], and to live in a “tent” as the people of Israel did during the Exodus.
Jesus traveled south down the Jordan River route. As he descended to the Plains of Moab, opposite of Jericho, he was guided, by the Spirit, down to the Jordan River, where he found John preaching and baptizing.
The crowds were small because the weather was cooler and the early rains had begun. It had been a blessed season for John the Baptizer. Many had heard of the conflict to come, had repented of their sins, had chosen to be baptized to begin their new life, and had changed their way.
Yet there was disappointment for John also. Again, this year, the Almighty had not sent either Elijah or the Messiah. John saw himself as one trying to alert the people of Israel that soon there would be a great battle and that God would be sending Elijah, as Malachi had prophesied, to call the people of God to prepare for the battle. When the Messiah came, he would lead the troops of God in the battle against the forces of evil.
‘Well’, John sighed, ‘maybe next season’.
John was preaching the good news of the coming kingdom, when he saw a lone figure approach. He looked familiar, but the man stayed in the background and listened. John was expounding on the prophet Isaiah, and looking forward to God’s acting to save his people. After a while, the man came forward to John.
It was Jesus, and he looked serious. They had known each other since childhood, though they had not seen each other for years. John knew that Jesus was special. John knew Jesus to be a truly righteous man, and considering the stories he had heard about Jesus from his parents, John wondered if Jesus could be Elijah returned.
After they greeted each other, Jesus asked John to baptize him. But John thought that the one who would announce the coming Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit, and asked that Jesus baptize him.
‘First things first’, said Jesus. ‘It is proper that I be prepared for the coming battle, and that I should give up my old life and begin a new one.’ So Jesus walked into the Jordan River from the east, immersed himself with John’s assistance, and walked out of the Jordan facing west, just as the people of Israel had crossed the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land and began their “new” lives.
At that very moment, Jesus died to his old life as a “handyman” and was born into his new life of ministry. Jesus was 31 years old when he began his new life. A life dedicated to leading God’s people on a new journey – from darkness into light and from bondage into freedom.
Upon leaving the water, Jesus stopped to pray. As he was praying, the clouds divided and the rays of the afternoon sun shone through – lighting up the area where Jesus knelt. At that moment John noticed a disturbance in the air above Jesus. It shimmered as it descended, in a sweeping line (as a dove would descend), toward Jesus. Finally this disturbance settled on Jesus.
This was the sign that John had been waiting for. AND JOHN KNEW! The Spirit of God had descended to Jesus and there it remained. Here indeed was the one predicted by Malachi that would prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus was Elijah returned [Jesus would later correct this misunderstanding].
And when it thundered, Jesus KNEW that God had chosen him to be the Messiah, the one who would lead God’s people. Here the voice of God declared Jesus to be His son, as God, in the Psalms, had once declared Israel to be His son. The Spirit of God declared that Jesus was to be God’s messenger, prophesied by Isaiah, whose task it would be to see that justice was brought to all the nations of the world.
No questions have been asked yet.