215 - Jesus Is Baptized
AUGUST 3 - Nº 215 Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 1:80; 3:1-23; John 1:19-34
While Jesus was growing up in Nazareth, the miraculous baby born to Elizabeth and Zechariah (see #210 - July 29 & #211 - July 30) was growing up in the wilderness of Judea. His name was John. He grew up wearing clothes made of camel’s hair and eating wild honey and locusts (probably the pods from locust trees). When he was about 30 years old, God showed up and told him that it was time for him to begin his ministry as the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. This happened to be a particularly brutal time in Israel’s history. Tiberius, who was the Roman emperor, was well-known for his cruelty. And Pontius Pilate, who ruled in Judea, had recently massacred many Jewish people. To add to these difficult political circumstances, the Jewish religious leaders, Caiaphas the High Priest, and his father-in-law Annas, were both rotten to the core. It was into this political and religious turmoil that John was called to begin a ministry of baptism. Baptism was a well-known ritual at the time. It symbolized that someone wanted to wash away old habits and beliefs and identify themselves with a new system. John’s role was to help people acknowledge that they needed to quit their old, sinful habits and start obeying and worshiping the One true God. Only then would they be ready for Him to send the Messiah. Since they were ready for a change to take place, large numbers of Jewish people came to the wilderness to hear John preach every day. He didn’t pull any punches! He explained just how sinful they really were. He addressed them as selfish snakes. He told them that stones had better credentials in God’s eyes than they did. He wasn’t the kind of front man you and I would have chosen to introduce the Messiah, but his message was effective. Many people from all over Judea and Jerusalem traveled to the Jordan River to be baptized by John and dedicate their lives to serving God. One day some of the religious leaders asked him, “Are you the Messiah?” He quickly explained that he was not. “No, I was sent to prepare the way for him,” he stated. “He will come after me. I am not even worthy to untie his shoelaces. I only baptize with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” The day after the religious leaders questioned him, John looked up and saw Jesus coming toward him. He shouted to the crowd, “Look, here comes the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! This is God’s Messiah!” Jesus walked into the water and asked John to baptize him. John was reluctant. “No, this isn’t right,” he insisted. “I should be baptized by you!” Jesus replied, “Let it be this way.” Although he never had and never would sin, Jesus chose to identify himself with people who needed cleansing. After all, one day he was going to bear their sins on the cross. So, in front of everyone there, Jesus was baptized by John. As Jesus came up out of the water, the sky suddenly ripped open! The Spirit of God descended like a dove and landed on Jesus. Then a loud voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son whom I love! I am very pleased with him!”
From the beginning of his ministry, God boldly and blatantly confirmed Jesus’ identity. He ripped the skies open, sent the Holy Spirit to rest on him, then spoke with a loud voice, “This is my son!” He reiterated this many times during Jesus’ ministry on earth. Jesus is God’s Son—the Messiah who came to take away the sins of the world! Do you live like you believe this? Do you live like you know him?