Imagine the sensation he caused. Word spread through Jerusalem and Judea like wildfire. An eccentric loner who lived out in the wilderness and ate bugs was now preaching the one message Jewish people had for centuries longed to hear: The Messiah is coming! The one who will deliver us from foreign rulers and set up His own kingdom is coming. Get right with God, because it is happening now!
And they did get right with God–at least, as they understood the process. Rich and poor, young and old, strict religious leaders and those who had been slacking off in observation of religious traditions—they flocked out to the wilderness to hear the preacher, throngs believed his message, and they confessed sins and were baptized in the river as a symbol of their “rightness” with the God who was going to come and establish himself as their king.
Some were even talking about the possibility that this man in the wilderness was in reality the Messiah himself.
“No, I’m just the messenger,” the preacher said. “I’m baptizing you with water to show that you’ve asked God to forgive your sins, but someone is coming who is much greater than I am. And when he comes, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
The preacher in the wilderness baptized, but it was a mere hint of what was to come. The baptized walked into the river as an act of faith, hoping to show they were right with God. The water washed down over them and then dried as they made their way home. For many, once they were back in their everyday world the power of the moments in the river wore off. John’s baptism was an outward act on the part of sincere but unaware and too fickle men and women.
When the Great One did come, He didn’t live up to expectations. Many found it difficult to believe and accept Him for who He was. In spite of their hesitation, though, large crowds came to hear what He had to say. And one thing He said was this:
“If you love me and follow what I say, my Father and I will come and live with you.”
When someone comes to live with you—spouse, baby, parent, roommate, pet—your world changes! You change. Your thinking changes. Your schedule changes. Your commitments change.
Jesus baptizes those who believe and He comes to live with them.
His baptism is not a symbolic human gesture to represent what might or might not be going on internally. It is not an act that is soon forgotten, “dries off,” or becomes ritual and loses its power.
He baptizes with His Spirit to transform every aspect of our lives.
This is a deep, soaking, penetrating baptism.
an act of the living God
to do away with the old life and create a completely new life
and seal a new relationship.
Everything depends on this:
When Jesus comes, He baptizes those who believe and makes possible all we are powerless to do.
Scripture: See Mark 1:1-8 and John 14:23
To read about how life changes, click on “The Spirit” category in the right panel.