|Baptism of Jesus|
John the Baptist played a pivotal role in the ministry of Jesus. John was a rough-hewn character, with long, flowing, scraggly hair. His eyes were deep set, and possessed the fire of a mystic soul.
John lived the ascetic life in the desert. He inhabited the area between the Dead Sea and Jordan, and could easily have been taken for one of the Essenes, both in his looks, and in his manners.
When he was thirty, John was called upon by the Lord, and he went into the Jordan Valley. He appeared before the people, looking like one of the old time prophets. His words were simple, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
John urged the people to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. To do this, he preached repentance, and the need for a revival of spiritual holiness.
In the time of Moses when Gentiles were invited into the Covenant of Abraham they were first baptized with water to purify their souls. And John baptized the Jews to purify and fit them for their entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.
John became known as a prophet all over Palestine. People went out to him and “were baptized of him in Jordan confessing their sins.”
In time the Pharisees and Sadducees came to witness his baptisms. Herod knew of his ministry, as did the Priests and Levites from Jerusalem. They asked John: Who art thou? Art thou Elias? Art thou the Christ?
John’s baptisms were held at Bethany, where the Jordan Valley approaches its outlet into the Dead Sea. Jericho was on the other side of the river; the fortress of Macherus was nearby on an isolated spur of the Moabite Hills. The surrounding land was covered in vegetation and palm trees. The scene of the baptisms was likely on the eastern range, where the water ran sparkling fresh and trees were abundant.
The Lord had revealed to John that not only would he prepare men for the coming of the Messiah; but that he should know the Messiah by a sign from Heaven, and tell the people who he was.
It came to pass that one day Jesus of Nazareth appeared before John to be baptized.
We must keep in mind that at the time Jesus appeared before John to be baptized, he was an unknown. No one knew his mission; no one recognized him as the son of God; he was just one of the hundreds who came to hear John preach and be baptized by him.
It is said that when John baptized Jesus, “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him; and lo, the Heavens were opened, and a voice came from heaven which said, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And when it happened that John reached out his hand to baptize Jesus, he exclaimed, “Behold the lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”
Thus, Jesus’s baptism was the start of his ministry on earth. At his baptism we saw the Holy Ghost enter into him to help fulfill his office as Messiah. God had finally called upon Jesus to tell him it was his time to fulfill his mission.
excerpt from my upcoming book - Jesus Christ: His Life & Times