We can joke, but let's look at message we rush past in the Joy of the Christmas Story!
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,
the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat,
the son of Levi, the son of Melki,
the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,
25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos,
the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,
the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath,
the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein,
the son of Josek, the son of Joda,
27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa,
the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,
the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melki,
the son of Addi, the son of Cosam,
the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,
29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer,
the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat,
the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon,
the son of Judah, the son of Joseph,
the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,
31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna,
the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan,
the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse,
the son of Obed, the son of Boaz,
the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram,
the son of Hezron, the son of Perez,
the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob,
the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham,
the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu,
the son of Peleg, the son of Eber,
the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan,
the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem,
the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch,
the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel,
the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh,
the son of Seth, the son of Adam,
the son of God.
The Mikvah around the Temple Mount
My God will strengthen and sustain those who call upon the Father of all of Creation. The Lord God Almighty. Who began His Word - with Jesus the Lord.
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Surely a very unpolitical thing to say. And a serious thing to say. John was pretty bold to say that. John was in wake up mode. Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order. ~ John Adams
The fifteenth year of Tiberias' reign was AD 27 or 28, and the place of John's emergence was out of the wilderness into all the region around the Jordan River. This is concrete. We tend to wave off what John had to say - ok, religious talk.
No - John had real commentary on Spiritual Issues. Issues so profound John's birth had an Archangel announce to a Priest in the Temple of God - this un-conceivable child would have a task from God Himself.
You have to wonder if God should have sent the Archangel Michael? When Michael contended with the devil for the body of Moses - Michael was polite. Gabriel seemed to be hasty with the punishment. And yet, perhaps Mary had heard of Gabriel visiting her cousin-in-law Zechariah. Properly informed - Mary knew she should be more polite herself. However, this is speculation - and yet - we all will go to Heaven to meet Jesus - so perhaps we should consider Heavenly visitations with angels. This is a worthy point of remembering!
Mikvah - John’s baptism was an adaptation of the mikvah, or ritual immersion bath, - part of Jewish life for generations and symbolized a spiritual cleansing. Spiritually part of the preparation for undertaking a new beginning. Jewish men took a mikvah each Sabbath in preparation for the new week. Women took a mikvah after each monthly period as a spiritual cleansing. On Yom Kippur the High Priest took 7 mikvot (plural of mikvah) during the ceremonies in preparation for entering the Holy of Holies.
Jesus came to John for a mikvah at the beginning of His ministry. And John was privileged to touch God.
John is reminding people this Baptism of the Holy Spirit will save them from their sins and they will avoid the wrath all in Israel felt could descend from the lack of a Davidic King and the Temple being appointed by Rome's puppet King Herod.
John's baptism - a mikvah - was a sign of a changed mind (repented) about their need for a Savior and were taking a new direction regarding their salvation. No longer would they focus on keeping the Law but would look instead to the coming redeemer whose arrival John was announcing.
Today, Baptism is a public declaration the people surrounding this Child of God want a spiritual cleansing and the new direction toward God has been taken. I love the affirmation of The Anglican Church to promote a relationship with Father God and renounce evil.
Father LORD my God, many are the wonders You have done, the things You planned for us. None can compare with You; were I to speak and tell of Your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
You bring good news to earth of Heavenly things. We lift up our voices with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!"
We will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before You, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands!
We thank You knowing blessings will arrive - in expectation - Thank You Father God. Amen in Jesus.
♔ Lord Jesus Saves †