And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and 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 will come one more powerful than I, the thongs 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.” At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
The Voice in the Desert
You hear one voice in the desert. You hear another voice from heaven.
It’s the first voice you might not listen to. Who would listen to a guy who preaches in camel’s hair and eats locusts? Who would listen to a guy that calls you a snake and a sinner? (See Matthew 3:7-10.) Your initial thought, as you listen to this voice, is to scoff and argue. But the more you listen, you end up crying for mercy instead. The voice in the desert speaks the damning truth. It cuts you to the core. You recognize the poison in your heart—poison that blasphemes, hates, lusts, and envies—and you are brought to your knees to confess that you deserve eternal punishment for your sins.
But the voice in the desert points to more than your sin. The voice in the desert points to the One so powerful, that no sinner is worthy to untie his sandals, and yet so powerful that he overwhelms and overcomes sinful hearts with his Spirit of grace. He points to the One who is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Now you couldn’t be more ready to listen to the voice from heaven. As water runs down Jesus’ face, the Father’s voice from heaven declares his approval and confidence in his Son, because he purposely and willingly gives him as the sacrifice for your sin. His life for yours! His death instead of yours! Even the Holy Spirit descends with approval. And yes, you hear the voice from heaven correctly, it pleases God to do this for you. Through faith you will not perish but have eternal life.
Because of such love, out of the overflow of the heart, another voice speaks. It’s your voice. It echoes the voice from the desert and the voice from heaven. It shows sin and shares saving love with others. It points people to Jesus.
Dear Lord, may I never lose sight of my need for a Savior from sin, and may I never let go of the fact that Jesus came for me and saved me. In his name. Amen.