The prominent vein in the old man’s forehead throbbed. This time Jacob realized he pushed too hard. It was time to take action.
“Perhaps you’re right, Father. Perhaps it is time I leave this house.”
His mother cried out from the corner. “Jacob, no.”
“Hush woman!” his father yelled. “If he wants to associate with those people, then let him. I wash my hands of it. We will remember him no more.”
Without another word Jacob gathered his meager belongings. He turned one last time, looking around the home he’d known and loved for seventeen years, giving his mother one last smile.
“I love you,” he whispered. His father stepped between them, blocking her face. Jacob had never seen his father’s eyes turn such a cold, hard gray. He stared at this man, unwilling to concede his decision. “Goodbye Father. You may not believe me, but I love you too.”
Not even a flinch. Though he had expected this precise reaction, Jacob hadn’t known it would rip his heart out to do it. With a sigh he left, walking only three steps before a soft, slight hand slipped into his.
“I’m so sorry, Jacob.”
He smiled and looked at Sarah, his beloved. Her deep brown eyes were set amid the softest and loveliest features he’d ever beheld. At least she would be with him through this. Her family – his family now – had supported him throughout this journey.
“At least I have you,” he said, and gave her hand a squeeze.
She drew close and the smell of spices came with her. He took in a deep breath, allowing the peacefulness of the moment to calm his agitated mind.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
The two of them walked on, hand in hand, making their way to the prearranged site. Only the low murmur of voices gave away the small crowd gathered around the water. At the edge stood Sarah’s family. Her father waved them over.
“Has he started yet?” Sarah asked her mother.
“Not yet. Hello Jacob. How did things go with your father?”
Jacob merely shook his head, not wanting to spoil what was about to happen with painful thoughts. Sarah’s mother nodded, her lips pressed tight. She understood more than anyone how stubborn her cousin could be.
The crowd quieted as John approached, his eyes scanning the hopeful faces. Who would be the first one? At last his eyes settled on one person, and Jacob’s heart skipped a few beats. John nodded at him and Jacob followed the older man into the water.
“Wait,” someone called out, his voice immediately familiar and sustaining. The crowd parted to allow their Savior access. He stopped just before Jacob and took his hand. “Would you permit me to go first?”
Jacob merely nodded, unable to believe what was about to happen. Jesus stepped into the water to meet John, taking his cousin in a firm hug. John pulled away, disbelief written all over his face.
“I should be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” he asked.
“For now, my friend, let me be baptized. This too must be fulfilled for righteousness sake.”
Jacob could hardly believe his eyes as he witnessed John baptize the Lord, who had no need to be cleansed. As Jesus came up out of the water the crowd gasped. From above the heavens appeared to open, and like a dove the spirit of God came down and rested over the Lord.
A voice, deep and peaceful, spoke to their hearts saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Warmth filled Jacob’s senses and he felt as though he were dipped in sunlight. Jesus came up out of the water and placed his hands on Jacob’s shoulders. All of Jacob’s hesitations, all his concerns and unease left him. In its place came the quiet, tranquil sensation that all was right with the world.
“You shall be blessed for your faith, young Jacob,” the Savior said, and Jacob had no choice. The words demanded to be believed.
The Lord gripped Jacob tightly in the circle of his arms, taking a moment to whisper in his ear. “Your father will remember you. This I promise.”
As the Lord stepped through the crowd, giving words of comfort and peace, Jacob walked to John’s side and, with Sarah and her family looking on, became baptized as a member of Christ’s church.
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