And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize with the water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:4-8
I have been lost many times in my life. Like most men, I am guilty of continuing in the wrong direction even though I knew that I was lost. Pride sometimes gets in our way and trips us.
However, eventually, I had to swallow my pride and do the right thing. I had to admit that I was lost and seek help. Then, I had to turn around and go in the right direction.
That is what repentance is all about, turning around and going in another direction. John in his preaching at the Jordan River was seeking to get the people who came out to hear him to repent of their sins.
There are some who think that repentance is just penitence, feeling sorry, or admitting to a mistake, or self-condemnation. These are easy and simple rituals, but not repentance. Repentance is not just saying what a fool I was.
Repentance calls for revolutionary changes in our lives. It requires one to go in a completely new direction.
Having been lost many times while driving in the United States, I could have admitted to my error. I could have shown remorse and said how wrong I was for driving in the wrong direction. But until I turned around and went in the right direction, I would not have made amends for my error. Repentance is like that. Changes take place and we go in a new direction.
John’s message to the people directed them to take a new path in their lives. They were going in the wrong direction. They had to turn around.
That was his message to prepare the people for the coming redeemer. Those who went out to hear him, we are told, made revolutionary changes in their lives. This resulted in their baptism.
John was a strange looking person, mainly because of the way he dressed. The people thought he was God’s promised Messiah. However, he explained, “I am not the one you think that I am.” In fact, he pointed out, “He is among you. Look around and you will see him.”
Jesus was among the people at the Jordan River that day. He is also with us collectively and individually.
Yes, he is among us wherever we find ourselves. He is in the baptismal font, and in the Sacrament of the altar. He is with us in our daily living.
He has promised us that he will never leave us. It does not matter who we are, where we are, or our circumstances, he is always with us.
John took the emphasis away from himself and placed them on the appropriate one. He guided the people to the one who makes changes possible. He pointed them to the messiah of God.
We who call ourselves Christians are also called to point people to the cross. We are called to point them to Jesus, the Christ. As we live out our lives, people should see the love of God within us. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.