I’m beginning a series of stories, based on the Passion History of the Bible. The characters are fictional. I enjoy understanding the makeup of various characters – how they dress – how they talk – what they think and how they relate to others. The stories are taken from actual events which occurred during Jesus’ ministry from the point of view of those who were witness to them. The time was right for God to send His Son into the world. It was all part of His amazing plan for our salvation. I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me.
This first day is the story of a Hebrew man named Nathaniel. He was a typical man of the day. He might have been a farmer or shepherd. The way he made a living isn’t really important to the story. What he saw when he went to see John, the Baptist is. As with everyone there, it seems indisputable that anyone present had to know that the Messiah had finally come.
I heard about this man for some weeks. He seemed to be stirring up some controversy in the desert. His name was John. He didn’t seem the likely candidate for making way for the promised Messiah, but I had to see for myself. I went with a few others who needed their curiosity quenched. We all wanted to witness what this fellow had to say and why he used water to cleanse his fellow man from the filth of sin. He called it baptism.
He was in the Jordan River when I caught first glimpse of him. A strange man to say the least. He was dressed in camel skins, bound at the waist by a leather strap. It was obvious he hadn’t put a comb through his hair for some time. His beard was scruffy and tangled. His only diet consisted of locusts and honey. His home was the wilderness. His words were powerful. The voice touched a chord in my heart and condemned me for what I truly am – a sinner in need of a Savior. I needed to be reminded of the condition of my soul from the day of my birth. I was the inheritor of the stain of sin. There was no way I could appear before God and His judgment. I was doomed to eternity in hell.
One by one, people would receive John’s blessing as they were doused in the waters of the river. Even in the stabbing words of condemnation, I was impressed by something else in this man – the baptizer. He wasn’t at all what I expected he would be. Even though his words cut to the core, there was an air of hope about him. I could tell that there was much more to his story.
John spoke these words, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Soon another man came to the river. They called him Jesus, a native of Nazareth – a nothing little town from which nothing special ever came. When John saw Jesus, He seemed to know immediately that this was the man he had been talking about. Jesus asked John to baptize Jesus, but John knew that Jesus was sinless. John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
What happened next was something I will never forget. The sky opened up and doves descended towards the very spot where Jesus stood. The Holy Spirit descended on him and a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Many, including myself and my friends, entered the river that day to confess our sins and ask for God’s mercy. We were confident that our prayers would be answered, because we had witnessed God’s own voice declaring His acknowledgement of His own Son, who had come to save us all.