“John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.” (Reference: John 1: 23-28 )
Perhaps beloved you like me are asking “Are we through baptism yet?” And the answer is not quite yet. But let us step back from the centered theme of baptism and look instead at the verse itself.
The writer of the gospel of John says that John the Baptist saw Jesus amongst the crowd and knew him for who he was. Now, if you think this is miraculous, remember they are actually related through their mothers. It was foretold that John would announce the way of Jesus,setting the groundwork for a new way of living. In Jesus John saw something that was very familiar. But he also saw something that was new and holy – so holy that though Jesus was a part of his family John was not worthy to offer even one minor service or submissive action.
When something new is happening, sometimes people do not realize it because they are stuck in their own way of living and being. But others see the new way and announce it clearly and boldly, as John the Baptist did. And as the historic Anabaptists did. Just as John the Baptist was made to suffer and was put to death, so were the historic Anabaptists, made to suffer because the new way of living they were proclaiming was not what the power majority wanted to hear.
How do we recognize the new and different? How do we make ourselves worthy of what is new and holy? And how do we bring into ourselves this thing that is so vital to our lives? It is through, beloved, baptism. Think of baptism as a way of showing that was at one time not visible and apparent to us is now clear, recognizable and familiar. We have proven ourselves worthy, both outwardly and inwardly. The old ways are washed away and the new ways take hold of us.
It may seem that this section on baptism is spanning many days, especially for something that in and of itself is just at the beginning our Christian lives. And if there seems to be many days devoted to baptism, it may be because the historic Anabaptists found it to referred to so often in scripture.
May you beloved see what others may not see, Christ and God working out a Divine mission in the world. And may you feel deep in your spirit the presence of God that refreshes you each day. Selah!