What a sight he was, this man who was preaching repentance and washing sins away through baptism. This was the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah – born in their old age – promised by the Angel of the Lord to be the forerunner of the Messiah.
Mary remembered her visit to her cousin right after discovering of her own pregnancy and Elizabeth knew immediately that Mary was indeed carrying the Redeemer, since the child jumped for joy within her.
Both Mary and Elizabeth knew the children they were going to bear, had a special mission on earth, but Mary was undoubtedly surprised when she saw the boy turned man.
John, the Baptist was not an ordinary fellow. His hair was tangled and dirty. His clothing was made from animal skins. His powerful message was apparently gathering quite an audience. Maybe they came to see the weird guy in the desert who ate locusts and honey. Maybe they made sense of his message and sincerely believed that his baptizing was going to change their lives.
John’s message of repentance was not an easy one. Most folks don’t like to hear about their shortcomings and disobedience. It burns the ears, but without hearing those words, how would they ever know how much they needed salvation?
As Jesus began to wade into the water, a stillness came upon the crowd. John was awe struck as he moved to the Messiah. Jesus asked to be baptized – not because He needed salvation, (He was sinless) but so that the Holy Spirit would descend upon Him and bless the work that He was about to undertake – and that God, the Father would approve it.
Still, John didn’t understand why he should baptize this man. He felt unworthy, as we should feel when in the presence of our Savior. It became apparent soon enough, when the heavens opened and a dove descended and the voice of God uttered the words, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
This action didn’t go unnoticed by the crowds. Word of the Messiah would spread like wildfire from town to town. Soon Jesus would be gathering crowds of His own and His message was one of forgiveness.
Mary’s boy was now at the start of His ministry. Soon John would be beheaded and Mary would probably visit Elizabeth to comfort her in her grief – not knowing that she would be suffering for her own dying Son in three short years.