22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized— 24for John had not yet been thrown into prison. 25 Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.”27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.”
We should remember that baptizing is a sign of changing someone’s own life. It’s a physical and public representation of the change that has occurred within you. I’m not quite sure if this was a common occurrence during that time or if an influx of people changing their lives was happening at this time. Either way, it is very prevalent in the bible and as a story, I see it as a forecast of events to come.
At first, verses 25 and 26 seemed oddly placed next to each other. That is, until I realized that they were related. I think sometimes, at least for myself, that instances like this in reading the bible I tend to gloss over it because I don’t quite understand it. I’ve learned, however, that it is usually cause to stop and reread it. It appears that there is a Jewish practice called Mikveh, which is purification by submersion into water. This appears to be the final step in repentance (any Jewish friends here can chime in) from sins.
If we recall, earlier John the Baptist was telling his disciples that Jesus comes to baptize us in the Holy Spirit, yet here they see him baptizing in water. John also told his disciples that Jesus was here to cleanse us of our sins. So then, wouldn’t it seem odd that he is doing the same thing that John is? John makes the point clearer in verse 27.
I appreciate this verse because to me it makes clear that we are not saved by action. It is not in the physical act of getting dunked that we are saved. Rather it is the forgiveness we receive from God that saves us. He forgives, we believe in His forgiveness, and we are saved. We are then motivated (see how similar it is to Jewish tradition?) because of our spiritual cleansing to proclaim to the world what God has done for us and in us. It is a commitment to our future to serve and honor Him.
This is why I get so adamant about seeking God. Our faith, our belief, our relief from our sins CANNOT come from us! We try so hard to “make ourselves right” in the face of God but we will continually fail. If we are waiting for the right moment, it will never come. My friends, the moment is now to ask God for forgiveness and receive His blessing. He wants to give it to you, Mathew 7:11 reminds us “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” He won’t force it on us, however. It is up to us to decide whether or not we want a relationship with Him.
How is your relationship with God today?