And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
You couldn’t miss John the Baptist. He strode into town dressed in camel’s hair clothing, a big belt around his waist, snacking on locusts and wild honey. You also couldn’t miss John’s message. He boldly proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Baptism was not a new concept for John’s audience, but it was a new experience. The Jews had seen Gentiles baptized in order to be accepted into Judaism. Now John was using baptism to prepare them for the acceptance of a new covenant through Jesus. John’s baptism was for repentance — a turning from the old ways of sin and turning to God for forgiveness and cleansing. The water was an outward symbol of what God was doing in their hearts.
A path of faith is paved with repentance. True repentance involves two things. First, we are sorry for our sins. We are sorry for rebelling against the Holy God. Second, we are willing to turn from our sins. Continuing in our sins demonstrates a lack of true remorse. Have you experienced true repentance?
Father, help me understand the gravity of my sin. Convict my heart for my rebellion against You. Help me experience a true sorrow. Give me the strength to turn from sin and turn to You in obedience. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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