John the Baptist was Jesus’ second cousin. John and Jesus were born about six months apart but they grew up in two different towns. John knew that God had chosen him to alert the people of Israel that the Messiah was coming, the “Anointed one of God” that the people had been promised, who would give them a better life.
John went out into the lonely, rocky hills to concentrate on God. He lived off the land. He wore and old camel skin tunic and a leather belt, he ate locusts and wild bee honey. When he was about 30 years old he started preaching for people to ask forgiveness from God for the bad things they had done. They should be baptized as a symbol of washing away their sins and starting a good new life. Crowds of people came to him to be baptized.
Everybody asked John, “Are you the Messiah? John said, “No. I’m not. Someone else is coming who is greater than me. I’m not even fit to untie His shoes. I baptize with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire!”
“Then, are you the Prophet Elijah come back to life?” they asked because the Old Testament said that Elijah would come before the Messiah. “Who are you?”
“I am the ‘voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the Way of the Lord!”
Jesus also grew up knowing that God had special plans for him. When He reached 30 years old He went to find John down by the River Jordan where John was baptizing people. John looked up and saw Jesus coming along the river bank. John was thrilled! He could feel that Jesus was going to be the One, the Messiah. He said, “Behold the Lamb of God Who will take away the sins of the world!”
Jesus came down into the water like everyone else, to be baptized. John said, “Wait a minute! You should be baptizing me instead of me baptizing you!”
Jesus said, “That’s okay. Go ahead and baptize Me. That is what everyone should do in order to do the righteous thing.”
So John put his hands on Jesus and prayed over Him and then laid him down under the water and brought Him back up just like he did for other people. Jesus stood up, quiet and reverent. Just then something caught John’s eyes. Coming down from the sky was a soft white cloud shaped like a beautiful white dove! It settled gently on Jesus’ head.
Suddenly a Voice from up in the heavens filled the air, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
“That’s it!” John said with joy, “I was told that I would see the Holy Spirit come down onto His head! Believe me, what I say. This is the Son of God!”
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