What Happened at the Jordan River

The Jordan River rippled along as usual that day, carrying the clear snow-water of Mount Hermon right down to the dark, heavy waters of the Dead Sea.
But it was not an ordinary day. There was a crowd by the riverside that had come to be baptized with the baptism of repentance. They were sinners, and they knew that baptism was the right thing to do. It was turning in the right direction. Every one of us is a sinner before God, and if you are not ready to face up to this, then you can only turn away with your sins. That’s a very serious choice.
It was John who baptized the people in the Jordan River. He was not a man who wore fancy robes, but he knew something that the people did not know. It’s no secret now, but it was then. Even John knew only part of the secret. This is what he knew: There was a Man standing there who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. And this special Man was younger than John and mightier in power and glory. John said that he was not fit to stoop down and unfasten this Man’s sandals! Who could this Man be? Do you know?
This was a puzzle even to John. In all that crowd, how could he know which was the right Man? God told John the answer, and he listened and remembered: “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (John 1:3333And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. (John 1:33)). John had been wondering and watching for this promised sign to come true.
Maybe you too are wondering, Who is Jesus? Where can I find Him? John didn’t look here and there for this powerful Man, but he remembered what God had said, and yes, he found what God had told him was true. He found Jesus. Will you do the same? God’s Word, the Bible, will point Him out to you.
Jesus came to be baptized too. The people all confessed their sins, but Jesus had no sins to confess. Jesus went under the water as the others did, but God was ready to mark Him out so that no one would mistake who He was. A clear voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:1717And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)). John looked, and do you know what he saw? The Spirit of God came down in the form of a dove and rested upon Jesus.
John knew for sure it was Jesus, and you can know for sure too. Later on when John saw Jesus coming to him, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:2929The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)).
That is a huge thing, to take away the sin of the world, isn’t it? Sin is a root that goes down so deep that no country can get rid of it, but someday God will! It is God’s Lamb who died for the sin of the world who will remove the whole root from God’s creation.
Jesus had not died on the cross when John saw Him, but He was God’s Lamb — perfect and holy and ready to be offered as the only sacrifice for sin that God could accept. People wondered about John, but he would not take any honor for himself. It was Jesus that God wanted everybody to see — Jesus, God’s holy Lamb, who would die to take away the sins of any boy or girl, man or woman, who would believe in Him and accept Him as Saviour.
We know that sin is spoiling the world now. God knows it too. He has promised to take away the sin of the world, leaving no sin at all in His new creation. He has told us that this world as it is now will be destroyed by fire.
The voice from heaven, the pure white dove, and the Lord’s holy life were marks that pointed to Jesus, and Jesus only. If you had been one of the crowd by the river that day, would you have found Jesus? He is the only Saviour of sinners. Is He your Saviour? No one can save you but Jesus. There’s no other way but His way! “The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:1414But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the voice from heaven say when Jesus was baptized?
2. Was there ever a pure white dove that descended on anyone else? Why or why not?
Project: What is the dove a symbol of? How is it different from a raven?