Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:5-6
Before Jesus started preaching Himself, His cousin John has his own ministry of preaching repentance, calling the people to confess their sins, and baptizing them. The old Testament prophets had predicted that there would be a messenger who came to prepare the way for the Messiah, and that was John.
John’s baptism--washing the repentant sinners in water--symbolized washing away their sins. When they turned away from sin, they became clean from their sins, just like going in the water cleaned their bodies.
The place of the baptisms was significant, too. John baptized in the Jordan River. Going into the Jordan was a symbol of changing to become part of God’s people. Many years before, God had called the Hebrews out of Egypt to become His chosen people. The Jordan River was the physical boundary between the wilderness where the Israelites wandered for many years and God’s Promised Land, the place of blessing God gave them. So by using the Jordan River, John was also symbolizing becoming part of God’s chosen people and claiming the promise of salvation.
But John was a prophet, not a savior. He could point people to God, but he couldn’t forgive their sins or make them part of God’s family
Questions for discussion and reflection
- How were John and Jesus different?
- Have you been baptized at North Valley? If not explore more online and take your next step. Next week the church will be having baptisms in both services. http://www.northvalleychurch.org/baptism
Dear God, You were preparing a way of salvation for us from the very beginning, long before Jesus ever came. Please help to listen to the people who are teaching us about you. In Jesus’ name, amen.