Cousin John was creating quite a stir.
He had found himself a wide spot on the Jordan River at Bethabara and was dunking people to cleanse them from their sins. News of the words and deeds of the flamboyant relative/prophet had reached Nazareth, and members of the community were split on their opinions of the events–based upon whether they had any family ties with the locust eater.
There was a lot of conversation in the home of Joseph the Carpenter, since Brother John was a part of the bloodline. Papa had died a year earlier, leaving the household to the care of his eldest son, Jesus. That oldest boy, though loyal, faithful and true, had never found great solace in carpentry, and with the death of his father, had become disillusioned with the daily chores.
After Joseph’s death, he had slipped away for a few days into the wilderness to think, and upon returning was greeted with the reports of his cousin’s outreach.
Some jealousy tried to slip in–for Jesus also felt a great calling to share a message with mankind. Knowing that John had already begun such an endeavor created a spiritual itch in him which he desperately needed to scratch.
In these fleeting moments of jealousy he was tempted to join the critics of his cousin. But ashamed of those inclinations, he decided to instead go to Bethabara and observe for himself.
It was a first step to sanity.
If something good is going on in the world, go hear it, understand it and support it.
So without announcement, he arrived at the encampment of the Baptist. He spent two weeks doing nothing but listening to his cousin, watching the events unfold and noting how John handled the contrary natures of the scribes and Pharisees.
He heard the Voice.
He dodged a huge clump of jealousy and instead developed a deep sense of admiration.
After hearing the Voice, it came time to make a choice.
Was he just going to be a watcher? Was he going to go back to Nazareth and try to be the dead carpenter’s son?
John talked about the Kingdom of God being at hand and the need to repent. Jesus stayed up one night thinking about his own repentance. For after all, there is nothing more sinful than believing you are sinless. He saw his errors. He saw where his discontentment with carpentry often came across to his family as if he had a feeling of superiority.
He knew he was tempted like everyone. He was touched with the same sicknesses that each and every human being experiences.
He wanted John’s baptism. He needed John’s baptism. It was the righteous thing to do–because if there was to be a mission, the first step to usher in the possibility was to make a choice.
Jesus made a choice.
He stood in line, waited his turn and stepped down into the Jordan River with his cousin to be cleansed.
To his surprise, the Prophet prophesied. The burly preacher called him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Jesus had only met John a handful of times. There was no private coalition. So he took John’s words into his heart as he immersed himself in the experience of the Jordan River baptism.
He rose from the water, walked to the shoreline and realized it was time for him to begin his own work. What was the best way to do that?
How could he change the noise in the world around him?
He smiled and took off across the countryside, bellowing, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
He borrowed the message of his cousin.
It had been a successful slogan–it was a great place to start.
At that fateful day at the baptism of Jesus, no one would ever have guessed that the Nazarene’s work would spread across the entire planet and that John would historically be viewed as a forerunner.
It was all made possible because Jesus had the sensitivity and wisdom to hear the voice and then make a choice before he went out to change the noise.