You’re standing by the Jordan River waiting for your turn. In the middle of the river, John the Baptist is just straightening up from baptizing your friend Joseph, water streaming down his arms and dripping from his beard onto Joseph’s head.
Suddenly John stiffens, eyes wide with surprise.
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn. 1:29)
Um, what now?
This is the One? Are you sure? After all this time, could it really be?
Well, if it’s actually him, then surely he’ll do something cool next—fight some Romans, make water flow from a rock, or eat a locust. Well, maybe not the locust. John does that a lot, and it’s pretty disgusting.
And then the weirdest thing happens, not what you were expecting at all.
The One gets baptized (Mt. 3:13-17).
And, as he rises from the water, what looks a bit like a dove—only more ethereal and glorious—comes down from the sky and settles around his head and shoulders. Could that really be the Spirit of God? What’s going on here? Who is this guy?
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
Do you see what’s happening here? Water, spirit, life. The Spirit of God descending on the Son of God to bring the life of God to the people of God. The Promised One is here!
That’s why John the Baptist gets so excited when he says that this is the one who would come and baptize people with the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:33). Without the Spirit no one can enter into the Kingdom (Jn. 3:5) because the Kingdom is all about God’s people being brought to life by God’s Spirit so that they manifest God’s glory in creation. And, Jesus is the one who gives the Spirit to God’s people without measure (Jn. 3:34) because he is the one who is full of the Spirit (Lk. 4:1). Jesus is the Promised One who brings Spirit and life into the world again.
To a woman caught in a spiral of sin and shame, Jesus offered himself as the living water who would restore her to true life eternally (Jn. 4:14). To a crowd more interested in the spectacular and the miraculous, Jesus offered himself as the bread of life who would satisfy their deepest cravings (Jn. 6:35). To a woman crushed with grief over the death of a loved one, Jesus offered himself as the resurrection and the life—the one who would defeat death and bring hope to a people lost in despair (Jn. 11:25).
Water, spirit, and life returned to a broken world.
And, Jesus brought new life for the whole person. The lame walk, the blind see, the leper is healed…broken bodies restored to life. This wasn’t just some “spiritual” life that renewed our inner selves but left the rest of us relatively untouched. No, when Jesus offers new life, it’s new life for our whole being.
Dry bones. Everywhere you look, the lifeless bones of your people. Dead. Empty. Hopeless.
Then He comes.
And everywhere he goes, spirit and life seep into the parched skin of a once-dead people. He spreads it around like an overly exuberant flower girl at a wedding, unabashedly scattering multicolored petals of joy on the surprised guests.
God promised. Jesus came. Life returns.
[You can read the rest of the posts in this series on the Gospel book page.]
- Kevin DeYoung offers The Four Indispensable Qualities of Good Preaching: veracity, clarity, authority, and authenticity.
These four qualities are indispensable to good preaching, but some are more indispensable than others. The farther you go down the list, the harder the traits come. But the good news is it’s the top of the list that matter most.
- Scot McKnight asks, Are Denominations Broken?, and shares a letter calling for radical transformation in the PC(USA).
To say the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is deathly ill is not editorializing but acknowledging reality.
- Daniel Kirk engages the controversy surrounding new translations of “Son of God” that are more acceptable in muslim cultures.
If the phrase “son of God” is tantamount to blasphemy to Muslims, is it acceptable to translate the phrase differently into Arabic in the name of making the gospel known?
- Patheos is adding another new blog, and this one looks like it could be very interesting. Evangelical Crossroads features Mark Russell (Asbury), Allen Yeh (Biola), Michelle Sanchez, Michelle Stearns (Mars Hill), and Dwight Friesen (Mars Hill). (HT)
- Stuart comments on a new report estimating that there have been 270 new Christian martyrs every 24 hours over the last decade.
- Protests in Egypt continue to escalate as the US increased pressure on Egypt to end the emergency law.
- And, here’s a list of 102 words that we can thank Shakespeare for.