He praised God for this man who was willing to sacrifice everything in order to be his herald. A shadow dipped and fled across his eyes as he glimpsed the herald’s final sacrifice.
Faces and feet joined his as they all drew closer to the voice. Their hearts were hungry, their hands empty. Inwardly, a glimmer of a smile took seed. Their seeking hearts were fertile soil for the message of the voice, and for the gift only he could give.
As the voice ahead became a face, then a man, feet quickened their pace. The baptizer's eyes sought a place to rest among the many who had gathered. He seemed to look at each one as if he was the only one, seeing all that identified him, the ugly, and the dark… the hope without reason or promise. He reached out occasionally with a rough, brown hand and told each one that hope lay in repentance, and in The One to Come.
The man had traveled with them to this place, and now The One to Come slowly squatted down. He leaned against a rock to gaze at his children. A tear escaped his eye as he watched them, one by one as they hesitantly creep to the shore. He watched with love as they succumbed to the blessing of bathing, of going down into a pool of grace, and coming up forgiven.
The hoarse voice and rough hand found completion in the one they are ministering to. With no uncertainty, no guile, he looked at The One to Come. The baptizer fell to his knees, hitting sand and rock, and cool, soothing water. His hands exploded into the air as his face exploded with pure joy.
“My Lord! You are come!”
“Yes, I have come, just as you told them I would. You have been very faithful, John.”
“Lord, I am not worthy to be called your servant. Wash me and cleanse me, oh Lord, from all unrighteousness. For your sake, not mine.”
“No, John. It is not for me to baptize you. You have been washed and made clean by our Father, who is in Heaven.”
“Lord, what is your will?”
“Baptize me, John, for through my obedience men will repent and become sons of our heavenly Father.”
“But, Lord, I am unworthy….”
“Baptize me, John, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Calloused hands gently cradle holy head and shoulders that would bear the sins of the world. Deliberately, with eyes never leaving the face of The One to Come, who came to seek and to save, John lowers Him into the muddy waters of our sin.
With a shout and a tear, John’s arms fall from that sacred head as The One to Come rose with triumph over Satan, sin and death.