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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: "Splash" 4-11-13 Deadline (04/04/13)

TITLE: Raised to New Life
By Michelle Knoll
~10th Place


"I told you, I am not the prophet!"

"Then tell us who you are!"

The proud Pharisee had badgered John with questions for the last half hour. Their uncomfortable standoff was finally interrupted by a young scribe who stepped forward to offer a more gentle request.

"Please. We need to know."

Frowning, John inhaled deeply. He knew why this group from Jerusalem had come to see him. The Sanhedrin cared only about stifling behavior which looked like rebellion against Rome. The Pharisees cared only for their position. Dash in, create a sensation, flaunt their authority. Then march out, heads held high, waving their robes and flashing their blue tassels for all to see. Just for show.

John's shoulders drooped as a sigh escaped his lips.

"I am merely a voice, crying in the wilderness." 1

The young scribe tugged on the Pharisee's arm, and the group moved away. John returned to the river and the most important thing: God's call to him, and his call to the people on the shore.

He ran his fingers through the cool water, glad to be done with the heated discussion. Out of the corner of his eye, though, he noticed the committee had decided to stay. A change of heart perhaps? John chuckled inwardly. He knew better.

Refocusing on the souls around him, he flung his hands into the air, sending up a spray of water. Smiling to the crowd, he urged them again to be baptized. A young boy trotted into the water as his parents watched, and John welcomed him with open arms.

Minutes later, he heard a sound at the water's edge, and turned to look in its direction, only to see a man standing there. Chills ran across John's body and down his arms, causing every hair to stand. John swallowed slowly, watching the man as he left his sandals with his staff and mantle. The water gurgled around the man as he strode toward John. John felt his heart race. Could it be?

"Behold the lamb that takes away the sin of the world!"2

John's breath quickened. Did he really just say that? Oh yes, he did. He glanced at the shoreline. The Pharisee was glaring at him.

"Baptize me, John."

John's eyes grew wide. Seriously? "But, but, I'm not even worthy enough to untie your sandals!" He looked past the man toward the shore, adding nervously, "That is, if you still had them on."

John winced. Such a stupid thing to say. But his cousin only smiled.

"Come on, John. Baptize me."

John's hands trembled on the surface of the water, and he choked back a sob. Looking up into his cousin's eyes, he whispered, "Jesus, I didn't know it would be you!"

Jesus' hand was on his arm. "John. Do it."

"But you should actually be baptizing me."

Jesus leaned toward John and spoke softly, "You know, John, I think that's already happened."

Now John couldn't hold back his tears, remembering his father's words from many years ago. The angel said he would be filled with the Spirit, even before he was born. 3

"Right. Right. Filled with the Spirit of God. Baptized."

John nodded, unable to speak further. He took Jesus' hands in his, braced himself, and then... slosh! He thrust Jesus under the water with such force, it folded together with a smack. The backlash caught John in the face, mingling with his tears. In mere seconds, he pulled Jesus up just as forcefully, breaking through the water coffin. The runoff splattered everywhere as Jesus stood before John, soaked and dripping.

A rumble of thunder shook the ground. God had spoken! John stepped back and gazed at the new man, now bathed in the Holy Spirit. Jesus' eyes met John's thoughtful look.

Movement on the shore caught their attention. The committee members were chattering furiously, their tassels bouncing up and down. Jesus nodded toward the commotion.

"Think they'll understand?"

John shrugged. "Some will, perhaps. You would know better than I, Lord."

John watched as Jesus strode out of the river, looking back only once to playfully fling water in his direction. John laughed at his cous– no, his LORD – and marveled. Yes, the Pharisees had their showy display of tassels. But John was certain Jesus' life would be a much better public display, for He would disarm rulers and authorities.

1 – author's paraphrase of John 1:23, NIV
2 – author's paraphrase of John 1:29, NIV
3 – Luke 1:15b

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lori Dixon04/11/13
I love the idea of their relationship being so playful. So real.
And this quote 'breaking through the water coffin' . .. very descriptive!
Sheldon Bass 04/12/13
Thoroughly wonderful! Though it's easy to see where it's going, you told it in a fresh new way that makes it well worth the read. Good job.
C D Swanson 04/13/13
Good job in this multi layered descriptive piece.

God bless~
Dana Anders04/15/13
Good characterisation and I like the way you started with the dialogue - it really draws you in. Can I just say that I think the title could reflect more of this personalisation/the tone and style of your piece? The title seems really formal, almost like a sermon and yet your writing was actually really personalised. Feel free to ignore my opinion, of course, it was just something I noticed. Well done.
lynn gipson 04/16/13
I like the title, and love the story. This is one of my favorite when John, who thinks he is unworthy to baptize Jesus, finds himself obeying God and fulfilling his real purpose.

Excellent job!
Christina Banks 04/16/13
I've always wondered what John must have though when Jesus came to be baptized. You gave us a peek into his possible frame of mind. Nicely done.
Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg04/16/13
Michelle is a talented writer. Thoughtful theologian and a wonderful human being. All success to her and to FaithWriters for all of her future writing projects!
Myrna Noyes04/16/13
You brought this important biblical event to life with your warm and winsome writing! I was blessed in seeing this scene in a fresh way! Your writing is very descriptive and flows well. A favorite section of mine was: " The Sanhedrin cared only about stifling behavior which looked like rebellion against Rome. The Pharisees cared only for their position. Dash in, create a sensation, flaunt their authority. Then march out, heads held high, waving their robes and flashing their blue tassels for all to see. Just for show." I could just picture the Pharisees doing this! :) Good job!
Bea Edwards 04/16/13
Well witten, very believable dialogue! I really enjoyed the possibility of Jesus playfully splashing John after that epic moment of the dove descending and the Voice from heaven.
Alicia Renkema04/17/13
I absolutely loved everything about this wonderful, humorous and touching piece of Biblical fiction. The way John said, "I am not even worthy to untie his sandals, that is if he even had sandals on" (or to that effect) -- you had great lines like that throughout that really made this piece warm and made you feel like it was happening right now. You are a very talented writer and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story on John and his cous,I mean Lord. That was special. You mentioned on in the brick section that you wondered if anyone had an idea for a title. Right in your text you talk about both John from before he was born and Jesus after His baptism being filled with the Holy Spirit, maybe you could title this:Filled with His Spirit -- just a thought. Your title is fine too. Blessings and thanks for sharing this treasure.
Judith Gayle Smith04/17/13
Beauty, passion, humor, reverence, playfulness, love, honor and joy What more could anyone ask?
Myrna Noyes04/18/13
HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS on your E.C. win for this wonderful story! WAY TO WRITE!! :)
Sheldon Bass 04/18/13
I just had to come back and comment again. This is such a good piece and I missed some of it the last time— in a hurry too often, as I'm pressed for time. I love the way you show Jesus' human side as he playfully splashed water back at His cousin. Congratulations on a well deserving piece. And that's just for now. Wait till we get to heaven, where the real rewards will be given!
Alicia Renkema04/18/13
Congratulations on both your second place win in your level and your EC. Well done, I am so glad that you won for this warm and wonderful piece of writing!
Nancy Bucca04/18/13
Great take on topic and an interesting twist to a familiar story. Your EC is well deserved.
Christina Banks 04/19/13
Congratulations on your EC!
Judith Gayle Smith04/20/13
Claudia Thomason04/22/13
Thank you for sharing this story, giving us a window into personalities as well a the historical account. Congratulations on your EC.