Jesus Surprises John
By Dr. Carol J Miller
John was standing waist deep in the Jordan River in Israel. For days John had been standing near the river, preaching to the grown-ups, telling them that they were not doing the right things. They were not helping the poor; not giving them clothes or food or shelter. John warned them that God’s own Son was coming. He would be angry at them. That made the adults nervous––they had gotten selfish; they had forgotten the poor. What should they do?
John told them to come and be baptized as a way of showing God that they meant to change their ways. Then God would forgive their sins.
But then, said John, they had to prove that they truly meant it by living their lives differently—by not being selfish and by paying attention to helping others.
What do you think those grown ups could do to show God that they had stopped being selfish? [accept all answers].
Well, the people began to do what John told them. First they came to be baptized by John in the Jordan River. Lots and lots of selfish people, coming to show God that they would do better. That’s why John was standing knee-deep in the river. Then, John suddenly looked up and his mouth dropped open. Jesus came splashing into the river toward his cousin John!
“Baptize me, too” said Jesus. Without even thinking, John said, “I should be baptized by you.” John knew that Jesus was not a selfish grown-up. He was the best person John ever knew. John knew something else, too. He knew in his heart that Jesus was God’s Son that people had been waiting for. He didn’t need to be baptized.
But Jesus said, “Allow it for now.” Maybe Jesus wanted the people to know that instead of being mad at them he wanted to be with them and help them to do what God wanted them to do. This wasn’t what John had expected. But he would see that it was the best way for God to be with God’s people. Jesus would show them understanding and love, just as he shows it to us.
Scripture quotations from the World English Bible
Copyright 2013, Richard Niell Donovan