How strange the scene must have been on the shores of the Jordan River when John the Baptizer proclaimed a “Baptism of repentance”. He went even further proclaiming that that very Kingdom of heaven was “At Hand”! Christ the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world was soon to be revealed …but not yet.
So many people came down to see John but not all who came down to the waters stepped into those waters to be held by the firm grip of John and plunged beneath and pulled up again.
It is not difficult to understand why.
Matthew 3:6 tells us “CONFESSING THEIR SINS they were Baptized by him in the Jordan.” It is not hard to see the crisis.
In order to feel the full impact of the crisis imagine what that must have been like for those who were actually there. All of those people along the shore already had some level of acceptance among their peers, at least most of them did, they had some face saving reciprocal acknowledgment that we just don’t expose our hearts, our sins, our corruption, we are not like other men.
To step forward from the crowd was to take a step literally and figuratively “Down”.
To take that step “Down”, was actually to say, ” I am guilty, I am a man or woman who is woefully sinful. I have lied, I have stolen, I have lusted, I have been a rebel and I am dirty, not clean. My reputation is a farce and God sees the depths of my soul and it is not right. But now I am willing to bare the shame of this acknowledgement in order to identify with God, who alone can help me”.
Imagine again, the crisis of those along the shore who themselves did not step ‘Down” but witnessed a close friend, a spouse, a servant, a business partner, a respected elder, a brother, or a sister, stepping “Down”. Moving away from them, first toward, then into the waters. How many of those shoreline people do you think were simply frozen? How many were unable to give up the lie, the reputation, the farce of reciprocal blindness to the realty of their own hearts corruption.
This crisis would have even become even more acute for those who were frozen on the shore line, when those who were “know sinners “, prostitutes , thieves, and others who’s reputations were already in shreds and every body knew it. To see them come down to identify with the call of John’s Baptism they would even see Roman Soldiers came to John.
A living faith creates a crisis, a living faith mines the depths of the heart and locates the corruption. Not just intellectually but actually and a living faith stands in the light that shows us our corruption and we say “Yes Lord , your verdict it true I accept the weight and the crisis this produces in my life. You have the answer and I am willing to bear both the reproach of being a self confessed sinner and that you Lamb of God are my only answer and salvation”
Yes, without experiencing this crisis and without acknowledging to our hurt that we are woefully sinful before both God and man we will not come. Yet in all of this crisis we are experiencing the beautiful and gracious “Crisis of a living Faith”.