Luke 3:3 John went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (NIV)
Recently, I baptized a father and his children as the mother, who was already baptized, stood next to them. It was a very beautiful ceremony and was watched by some of their church friends in the sanctuary. I felt privileged to have been asked to do this for them and it reminded me of the mysterious way that the Holy Spirit connects Christian families to one another. As their church friends came forward to greet the family after the baptisms, I witnessed an outpouring of joy and love. It was a blessing that I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life.
When John the Baptist ministered to people in the region of the Jordan River, he emphasized their need to repent and be baptized. He did this to help people who were struggling with their sins and who needed a brand new start. The best way to do this was repent and then be ritualistically cleansed in the River Jordan. For those who experienced it, their baptism must have been both a liberating and joyful occasion. As they emerged from the waters of the Jordan, they must have felt as though their life had started all over again which would have been a great feeling. To be fully cleared of sin and totally loved by God would have been an exceptional experience. God’s grace is immense and whether a baptism takes place in the River Jordan or a church sanctuary, the effect is the same: a restored person becomes a welcomed child in God’s Kingdom.
Point to ponder
When have I felt God’s grace in my life? How have I shared that gift with other people?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of baptism and its wonderful power which restores us to God’s love and favor. Be with us and bless us this day. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the church website at this link: www.erinpresbyterian.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s stained glass designs called ‘Baptismal Waters.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Waters.