Story Five

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 4
WE come now to a time when Jesus, the son of Mā́ ry̆ was a young man about thirty years of age. Jŏhn, the son of the old priest Zăch-a-rī́ as, was six months older, but these two young men had never met, for one was in the north at Năź a-rĕth, and the other was living in the desert on the south of Jū-dḗ a.
Suddenly the news went through all the land of Ĭś̝ ra-el that a prophet had risen up and was giving to the people the word of the Lord. It was more than four hundred years since God had sent a prophet to his people; and when it was known that again a man was speaking what God had told him, and not what he had learned by studying the old writings, a thrill went through the hearts of all the people. From all parts of the land, out of cities and villages, people poured forth to the wild region beside the river Jôŕ dan, where the new prophet was preaching the word of the Lord.
This prophet was Jŏhn, the son of Zăch-a-rī́ as. He lived in the wilderness, where he was alone with God and listened to God's voice. Then he spoke to the people the words that God had given to him. In his looks and dress John was not like other men. His garment was made of rough cloth woven from camel's hair; around his waist was a girdle of skin; and the food which he ate was dried locusts and the wild honey from the trees. And this was his message, "Turn from sin to doing right, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the King is soon to come." The people came to hear his words, and when they asked him, "What shall we do?" Jŏhn said to them, He that has two coats, let him give to him that has none; and he that has food, more than he needs, let him give to him that is hungry.”
The men who gathered the taxes, and were called publicans, asked of Jŏhn, "Master, what shall we do?" And John answered them, "Do not cheat the people, nor rob them, nor take more money than the law tells you to take from them.”
And when the soldiers came to him, he said to them, "Do not harm anyone, nor bring false charges against any; and be content with the wages that are paid to you.”
There came to Jŏhn some people who were called Phaŕ ĭ-sees̝. These men made a great show of being good, and of worshipping often, and of keeping the law of Mṓ s̝es̝. But in their hearts they were evil, and their goodness was not real. Jŏhn said to these men when he saw them, "O ye brood of vipers! Who has told you to escape from the wrath of God that is soon to come? Turn from your sins to God, and do right. And do not say to yourselves, ‘Ā́ bră-hăm is our father,' for God is able out of these stones to raise up children to Ā́ bră-hăm.”
When men who heard the words of Jŏhn wished to give themselves up to serve God and to do his will, Jŏhn baptized them in the river Jôŕ dan, as a sign that their sins were washed away. And because of this he was called "Jŏhn the Băṕ tĭst." Some of the people began to ask, "Is not this man the Christ whom God promised long ago to send to rule over the people?”
Jŏhn heard this, and he said, "I baptize you with water, but there is one coming after me who is greater than I. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is so high above me that I am not worthy even to stoop down and untie the strings of his shoes. This mighty one who is coming shall sift out the wheat from the chaff among the people. The wheat he will gather into his garner, but the chaff he will burn up with fire that no man can put out.”
Nearly all the people in the land came to hear Jŏhn in the wilderness, and were baptized by him. Among the last who came was Jesus, the young carpenter from Năź a-rĕth. When Jŏhn saw Jesus something within told Jŏhn that here was one greater and holier than himself. He said to Jesus, "I have need to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?”
Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for it is fitting that I should do all things that are right.”
Then Jŏhn baptized Jesus, as he had baptized others. And as Jesus came up out of the water, and was praying, Jŏhn saw above the head of Jesus the heavens opening, and the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove and lighting upon him. And Jŏhn heard from heaven a voice saying:
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And then Jŏhn knew and told to others that this was the Son of God, the Christ whom God had promised to send to the people.
Lesson 5. John the Baptist.
(Tell Story 5 in Part Sixth.)
1. When Jesus was a young man in Nazareth who began to preach? John the son of Zacharias.
2. Where did John preach? In the desert near the river Jordan.
3. Who went to hear John preach? All the people of the land.
4. What did John tell the people to do? To turn from sin and serve God.
5. Who did John say was soon to come? One greater than himself.
6. What did John do to those who were willing to serve God? He baptized them in the river Jordan.
7. By what name was John called? John the Baptist.
8. Who came to be baptized by John the Baptist? Jesus of Nazareth.
9. What took place when Jesus was baptized? The Spirit of God came upon Him.
10. What voice was heard from heaven? "This is my beloved Son."
11. What did this mean? That Jesus was the Son of God,