Where To Go For Cleansing
The ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus overlapped. John continued at the Jordan, north of the Red Sea; and Jesus, with His new disciples (some who were previously with John) were west of the Red Sea. Both were preaching and both were baptising (although Jesus did not personally baptise, only His disciples (John 4:1-2)). In addition, the Pharisees had a rite of ceremonial washing, as did the Essenes. So which of these cleansing ceremonies were true and effective? It became a point of debate which involved John’s disciples. Perhaps they were confused, disappointed or even jealous that Jesus was now attracting some people who followed John. As we shall see in the next section, John the Baptist was glad that all the attention was going to Jesus (John 3:27-30).
Religious legalists love this kind of argument; and yet those who trust in their religious formulae are always disturbed when Jesus moves their goalposts. The reality, for John’s disciples, was that their job had been done. They had encouraged people to get ready to meet God. Now that He had arrived in the person of Jesus Christ, it was right that “everybody went after Him”. John’s task, as the last of the Old Testament prophets, was to tell people that they had broken God’s covenant and that they needed to repent: it was the work of the evangelist. The task of Jesus was to redeem those who had repented: it was the work of God.
With so many religions and different ways that Christians express their worship, it can be very confusing for those who want to know God. Who should they believe? Which baptism is effective? The answer is that the focus must not be on the church, the mode of baptism or the style of preaching, but on Jesus. Only He can redeem. Repentance without redemption becomes a cruel spiral of remorse which can never be satisfied or bring peace with God. Yet although many try to get right with God, they fail because they do not come through Jesus the Redeemer. So in your conversations with friends and colleagues do not major on your wonderful church, your personal wonderful experiences or the wonderful person who led you to Christ: instead, lead them towards the wonderful Jesus who alone has the power to redeem them from an empty way of life, hollow promises, and cruel despair (1 Peter 1:18).
© Dr Paul Adams