The Day We Didnít Go Swimming
When I woke up this morning, all I wanted was to go swimming.
Jacob and I had worked hard in the fields, and Mother said that we could have the day to ourselves. Itís hard work in the fields, but the crops bring our familyís survival. Mother noticed our hard work, so Jacob and I were given permission to walk down to the Jordan to swim.
But when we got there, the shore was crowded. At first we didnít understand why. When I drew closer, I heard people say that it was John, the Baptizer. His practice of dipping people into the water has become popular with some the Jews here and many have followed him by being ďbaptizedĒ. My rabbi says this Baptizer is a harmless fool.
I watched him and marveled. He isnít much to look at. They say he is from the desert region. His clothing is made of skins. He has a wild look about him. But as I watched, I saw that his eyes were kind, and his words held my attention. He showed compassion for the people who were there, and he insisted that he is not the Messiah.
ďI come to prepare the way of the Lord,Ē he said. His voice was strong and full of conviction. ďI baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.Ē
I was fascinated. Jacob impatiently tugged at my hand. There was an inlet further up the river, and he wanted to go. But I was captivated by Johnís voice, and by something in his words. I felt sure that something wonderful was happening there.
I watched as scores of people went into the water, and talked quietly to the Baptizer. He placed a hand behind their heads and another on their shoulders. After a few seconds, he lowered them into the river. When they came out, they were praising God and smiling.
After a while, I turned to my brother and smiled. I was ready to go. But by then he had been caught up in the experience, as well. ďJust another moment, Joshua,Ē he begged. ďI think that something else will happen soonĒ
And he was right. Among the crowd was Jesus of Nazareth. He is the one who has been said to teach about the Kingdom of God, and has been said to do miracles. He travels everywhere with twelve men, and there are many stories of what he does and says.
Yesterday, he didnít speak to the crowd, as he has been said to do. He spoke only to the Baptizer. But John didnít baptize him right away. He protested. But Jesus insisted, and John lowered him into the water, like the others. I saw tears streaming down Johnís face, though I didnít understand why. I was strangely stirred. Jacob stood still, at my side.
When Jesus came out of the water, I saw a beautiful dove suddenly appear. It flew down, and landed on Jesusí shoulder. I know you will not believe me, but I swear I heard a voice from the sky that said, ďThis is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.Ē
The look on Jesusí face was like nothing Iíve ever seen before. He seemed to be in another world. His eyes looked straight at John, and then he turned and smiled at everyone. His eyes met mine. I felt wondrous peace in my heart
I canít explain why it moved me so. My heart was strangely stirred, and it seemed that I must learn more about this Jesus. But the time was getting late, and I knew we must soon return. Jacob was quiet, too. I could see that he also had been moved. We quietly turned and went home.
What can I say about that day by the Jordan? How can I explain what my heart is feeling? I can hardly explain it to myself. I just know that someday, I want to meet this Jesus again. And when I do, Iíll ask him to explain more about the Kingdom. For I am convinced that only when I look into his eyes again will I understand what my heart has been searching for, since the day we didnít go swimming.
Bible references and paraphrases from Matthew 3:3-17; (NIV)
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