Imagine you were one of the women followers of Jesus during his three-year ministry on earth. What would it be like as you heard his teachings, walked by his side, and watched his ministry?
Today I decided to get closer and hear what John the Baptist was saying. But when I got there, I saw many retreating and a group of well-dressed men coming toward John. I recognized some of them from the Temple. They seemed to be a group of Pharisees and Sadducees. Though highly educated, and considered to be the religious elite, I have always been intimidated by them. They never smile. They look down upon us common villagers. As you know, having a desire to learn spiritual things, I occasionally went to listen to them. But their words were always harsh and condemning. I have the sense that they feel they are better than everyone else. Many of my friends are turned off by their judgmental and pious attitudes. Sadly, along with rejecting these men, some of my friends also turn away from God. I know this is not right. We are to look to God’s holy Word to know His character. Though the leaders are assigned to teach us, deep in my heart I know they are misunderstanding the true nature of God. After all, the Psalms of David help us know that our God is one of love and mercy. Remember how Moses once heard the Lord describe Himself as “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).
When I went near to John the Baptist, I heard him rebuking the religious leaders. He even called them a brood of vipers! Truly, John was not concerned about what others thought of him. He told them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. He also said that “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10). Later in his speech, he called the fire unquenchable! At first I thought he was only speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but then his eyes turned from them and looked upon the whole crowd. I tried to back out of the crowd, but there were too many people. Suddenly, John’s eyes met mine. Though his face was kind, his words pierced right to my heart. Immediately, I was aware of my sins. I began to confess them to the Lord. Like many around me, I knelt-down, raised my hands to the heavens, and asked the Lord to forgive me.
Sister, it turned out to be one of the most incredible days of my life!
I joined the line of people to be baptized by John. Even a few of the Pharisees repented and came to be baptized. Sadly, most of the religious leaders kept their proud cloaks upon their backs and went back to their towns. May I never become so full of pride that I lose sight of the sinner that I am.
Baptism is the most freeing experience I have ever had. I waded into the Jordan River and John guided my head to go under the water and then back up again. When he raised me up, he prayed for God to wash my sins away. Sister, I feel so free! I encourage you to get baptized!
your big sister
Today’s Bible Reading: Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-18