4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”When someone is asking you about what you are most passionate in your life, you wouldn’t reply with a everyday, bored reply. This passage from the first chapter of John is one of my most favorite passages. Imagine John in his fuzzy wilderness clothing, standing beside the Jordan River,baptizing the thousands waiting to be baptized. Here come the higher ups from THE TEMPLE. This is John’s chance: “Who are you?” they want to know… Well, John, could have replied, “I am sure you know my father, Zechariah.. Yes, serves in the Temple, wonderful man, raised me to be so godly. Yes, the miracle of the angel Gabriel’s visit, my mother Elizabeth conceiving. What… yes, the miracle announcement concerning my birth. Oh, yes, Dad did regain his speech completely. Yes, my mother, fabulous woman! Such a good mother. Such a kosher woman, always cleaning and using kosher pots, pans and products. Yes, very fortunate my mother got my name right and Dad agreed. Well, now, the people just flock to me… Yes, it is quite remarkable, almost like television evangelists!”
But given the opportunity, John cries from his heart, ““I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord”. John sees that things need to be straightened and is willing to tell the priests and the people.
And Jesus, the Son of God, did not demand and cling to his rights as the Son of God, but went through the baptism of repentance to have the Holy Spirit bless Him. Jesus was baptized in John’s baptism in the work-a-day Jordan River, not in the front of the congregation and a party afterwards. Not ritual, but relationship. Love from the Father, giving these men their meaning in life.