Have you ever been given a nickname? Nicknames can be given due to something you have done, the way you look, your surname, or to distinguish you from others with the same name. John is often referred to as John the Baptist. This helps us to distinguish him from other Johns, particularly the disciple John. John is given this nickname, as baptizing is what he is famous for doing!
The start of the Gospel of Luke has been a going back and forth between stories of John and Jesus. We began with John’s birth predicted, then Jesus’ birth predicted, followed by John’s birth then Jesus’s birth and a glimpse of Jesus at 12 years old. Now the narrative switches back to John, who is an adult living in the wilderness near the Jordan river.
John was doing exactly what Isaiah, the angel Gabriel, and Zechariah prophesied he’d be doing! He was preparing the way for Jesus, teaching the people who travel out to him about repentance, forgiveness of sins and living differently as a result of being forgiven. John was baptizing people as an outward sign of an inward change.
The people were expecting the Christ to come—God’s Chosen One promised throughout the Old Testament. They start to wonder, was John the Christ? John was clear with them that he was not. But John also lets them know that Christ was coming. He would be more powerful than John and baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John said he wasn’t even worthy to untie Christ’s sandals. Touching dirty feet was the job of the lowest servant in a house and John didn’t think he was worthy to do even this for Jesus.
John definitely didn’t expect to be baptizing Jesus! Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism includes John trying to prevent Jesus from being baptized, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was baptized? He had no sins to repent of!
In His baptism, Jesus demonstrated what He came to do. He took our sins on Himself and payed our debt. He is our salvation, the One who came to save us.
In response, the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, and the Father spoke words of love and delight. What a sight—our amazing God, three-in-one and one-in-three! God is so wonderfully awesome!
God created us to be in relationship with Him just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always been in perfect relationship. Yet our relationship with God was broken by sin. Jesus—God the Son in human flesh—came to earth to save us!
How are we to live in response to this great gift of forgiveness of sin from Jesus? John the Baptist tells us, “produce fruit that proves your repentance” (John 3:8). After all that God has done for us, how can we be the same? How can we go on living the same way? We can’t! We are to be fruitful in how we live, allowing the Holy Spirit to develop His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.
Our transformed lives are also a witness to others. We are able to be part of God’s plan to save people from every nation, tongue, and tribe by telling others the Good News! John got to see many lives changed by God, and even got to witness the amazing scenes at Jesus’ baptism. Ask God to guide your words and actions as you seek to live to glorify Him by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you!
“But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.” – Matthew 8:15
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