There’s a great scene in my favorite movie about Jesus, where He comes to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. The music starts to build slowly, John is in the water and Jesus approaches, then John looks up and sees Jesus and kind of freezes in his place, and the look in John’s eyes when he realizes who this is…
What an epiphany!
Jesus and John tell us so much about each other in the Gospels.
John heralded Jesus in the desert, and years before that our Lord heralded John. He told Zechariah (through an angel) that he and Elizabeth would have a son who would be “great in the sight of the Lord” (Luke 1:14). And do you remember how (in Luke 1:44) baby John heard Mary’s voice and “leaped for joy” in Elizabeth’s womb? The Savior was so near, about to be born into the world.
Had God really chosen to flesh out our salvation – like this?
And He fleshed out Isaiah’s 700 year old prophesy in John the Baptist, the “voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord…'” (40:3). John pointed people back to the prophets of old, who (through God’s Spirit) had pointed them ahead to John, to this very time, the coming of the promised Messiah.
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel…I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him…I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
Later, Jesus spoke to the people about that testimony: “John was a lamp that burned and gave light” (John 5:35).
Testifying to the truth cost John dearly. He left home and family to live in a cold, lonely desert, eating locusts and wearing camel-hair clothes. He even lost his life for Jesus.
In some ways, Jesus and John seem to mirror each other, don’t they? But John’s words in Matthew 3:11 shed light on that: “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.
Jesus left His divine place alongside the Father in eternity to come into the world and become one of us, suffering in the flesh as we do. He suffered for us and for all people, for our sins, and He willingly gave up His life for us so that we might be forgiven by God and saved through Him.
“…the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all…” (John 3:31)