“He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…” vs. 3
John may not have been a member of the Essene Community at Qumran but he was undoubtedly influenced by its practice of ritual immersion for cleansing and renewal, a practice that became the central feature of his ministry. For him the baptism was a sign of repentance and was connected to the forgiveness of sins. It was a simple ritual, one that could be conducted anywhere there was available water, and the area along the Jordan was easily accessible from any direction. People came from the whole region, listened to John’s cry for repentance, and submitted to his baptism. We need those external signs in our faith life. While it’s obvious that God’s grace and forgiveness is based on God’s unconditional love, our water connection is priceless. The ritual is a way to act out what God gives freely and provides an indelible way to demonstrate our faith. Just as water cleanses from every kind of soil and stain, God’s love completely overwhelms any residual sin that might be in our lives. Of course we don’t need to be baptized to receive forgiveness, but it is undoubtedly a wonderful opportunity for thanksgiving and praise. In this world of uncertainty and personal doubt baptism is a delightful reminder of the special place we have in the heart of God.
Thought for the Day: How do I respond to a call for repentance?