Zachariah was as happy as could be. He held his newborn son John in his arms. A prophecy whispered in His heart as he looked at his child. John would prepare the way for the Messiah.
Fast forward to 30 years later, throngs of people flocked to the area where John preached, which was down at the Jordan River. The Jordan Valley of Israel is part of a rift valley running north and south that extends from Southern Turkey southward via the Red Sea and into Eastern Africa. Due to the river’s location it is reasonable to assume that many foreigners came to see John. Moved by his words people from all walks of life stepped into the water and got immersed.
In Judaism, a bath called “Mikveh” or “mikvah” Hebrew: מִקְוֶה / מקווה is used to achieve ritual purity. It is understood that most forms of impurity can be nullified through an immersion in a natural collection of water, like the Jordan River. Even so, John’s baptism was novel in that the immersion symbolized a new beginning and change of mind. We all have to let go of our old mindset. There is no freedom in preconceived notions and close-mindedness.
In John’s lifetime, the Roman Empire ruled Israel and the neighboring countries with an iron fist. People were looking for a king to free them from current oppression and lead them into freedom. Contrary to popular belief, however, the Messiah did not come to address their political situation, as desperate as it was. God knows that personal freedom exceeds political freedom; regardless how restrained we are from the outside, internally we can still be free.
Jesus came to revolutionize our hearts and minds, and John the Baptist prepared the world by preaching repentance. Repentance is all about changing our mind and obtaining a different point of view. Welcome to God’s way of thinking – In His kingdom the last come first and the first come last; what seems foolish is wise; and what seems wise is indeed foolish. Jesus came to broaden our vision. Are we ready to receive the King?