John the Baptist Prepares the Way
To those in Judea and Jerusalem, it wasn’t John’s clothing and diet alone which made him strange and possibly even repugnant to them; it was his message. You see, baptism itself wasn’t a new concept to the Jews, but the insistence that they needed to repent and be baptized was. The Babylonian Talmud prescribed baptism or immersion for any non-Jew (Gentile) to convert to Judaism. Gentiles were unclean, so acceptance into Judaism required a ritual washing away of that uncleanness. But the Jews viewed themselves as God’s people, clean already. The suggestion that they repent and be baptized was radical. Though some resisted John and questioned him (John 1:19-28), many others responded to his call.
The Jews in John’s day had added extra steps for Gentiles to be included among God’s people. Early Christians later struggled with the same, debating whether circumcision should be required of the Gentiles God was adding to their numbers (Acts 15). But the only requirement John cries out is to turn away from one’s sins, come to the Living Water, and be made clean. The labor of God is to come to Him and to trust Him.
Stepping Out in Lent – Take time to examine your own perspectives today. Sometimes, we are so focused on what others are doing and whether it lines up with how we view the way God works that we fail to realize we’re missing the work He wants to do in our own lives. In what ways is He inviting you to come and trust Him?
Author – Mary Mangan joined the community of St. Peter’s during the Lenten season of 2015 and was Received in December 2016. Though most know her as the owner of Seminole Sitters, she prefers to be known for her love for Christ and His Church. She is passionate about bridging denominational divisions and pursuing racial reconciliation. She has a lot still to learn.