It unnerved me as a child when we crossed over rivers. It seemed so far down, and took so long, and the water seemed so dangerous. I closed my eyes, held my nose, and tried not to put my full weight down on the seat. But in time, the rivers became less threatening, and with more time, they became places of spiritual refuge and great beauty. Great things can happen in rivers.
Seeing the Jordan River for the first time just flooded my mind with bible stories. The Jordan River, between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, played host to some magnificent moments. Joshua led his people across the Jordan and into the Promise Land. Naaman washed in the Jordan to cleanse his leprosy. Both Elijah and Elisha were active on both sides of the river. It’s where John baptized thousands, and where even I have baptized people. But more than anything, it’s where Jesus was baptized.
When you stand the on the bank where it’s believed John immersed the Messiah, it’s easy to imagine them in the river. Talk about a moment in history! Jesus wasn’t immersed because of sin. He had nothing for which he needed to repent. He was there because the greatest man ever born of woman, John the Baptist, would proclaim he witnessed God’s Spirit come upon Jesus, and that the voice of God celebrated, “This is my son!”
At his birth, the angel declared a savior had been born. The shepherds found the infant Messiah and told everyone what they had seen. The Magi presented gifts of royalty, the gifts of kings. Collectively, they all pronounced that Mary’s son was the son of David, the Son of God. They coronated a King and proclaimed to Jerusalem, to Israel, and to the world that God Emmanuel had arrived. Thirty years later, a second proclamation was made. John announced that Jesus of Nazareth was in fact the Son of God, the son of David. Redemption and salvation had come to our world.
Mary washed her infant son with water, wrapped him in cloth, and placed him in a manger. John washed Jesus with water, saw him wrapped in the Spirit, and then placed in the desert for forty days.
Jesus came to the Jordan. He came out of the water knowing exactly what he was destined to do.
He came out of the Jordan so he could go to Calvary. It’s a new birth, to born again, filled with the Spirit.
God bless you.