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John 3:22-24, NIV
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.)
December 20, 2010
Another transition time. Jesus steered his way out of the big city of Jerusalem, traveling down off the Mount and into the low-laying countryside adjacent to the Jorden River.
Plenty of water; plenty of people coming for baptism. Nearby was John the Baptist and his disciples. All that sounds like an abundance of everything needed for a great awakening of religious fervor. The disciples were doing the baptizing (that's what it says in chapter 4,verse 2); Jesus appears to have taken a back seat and is just hanging out with them. Enjoying all the attention given to his Father in heaven. How sweet it was to see so many people moved to repentance and desiring to be washed in the cleansing waters of baptism.
They all may have looked back on these days along the Jordan River as the happiest days of their lives. And as we all know, happy days do not last. The grumbling begins in the very next verse.
More journal entries
August 9, 1982What stands out in this text? Not Jesus; he's on an equal plane with his disciples. "Jesus stayed there with them" sounds like he accompanied the disciples instead of them following him! They were baptizing, something which John the Baptist made popular. Was there a religious revival going on and Jesus' disciples wanted to be part of the action? Seeing the crowds coming to you for what you can give them, eager for baptism and newness of life--that's exhilarating. An understandable notion of what the disciples thought ministry was all about.
Jesus called them to do God's work, so here they are, preaching and baptizing. A long way from the journey to the cross Jesus would take them on, yet a stopping place along that road.
Jesus stayed with them, giving his blessing so they could enjoy the Spirit moving among the people. For a time, God blessed this ministry and then they would move on, following Jesus instead of leading him into green pastures. They were enjoying an oasis on the road to Calvary. Temporary, not permanent.
I bet they wanted to spend the rest of their lives in that blessed ministry. Success they had; didn't that prove they were doing God's will?! The disciples will need to learn to live the present moment to the fullest, but not be attached to it. They had to be able to move on.
August 11, 1982This was a time of cooperation between Jesus and John, amid an atmosphere of excitement and success. People were continually coming. God was blessing.
It's good they couldn't see into the future. A difficult future also awaited John the Baptist. His baptizing would come to an abrupt end. John went to prison, spent the remainder of his days there and was beheaded. The reasons were all political. To the outsider it appeared that God had not protected his own.
From the darkness of his prison cell, did John the Baptist continue to believe in what he has seen and experienced during those bright days along the Jordan River? It's very difficult and tries the soul to believe in the darkness what you saw in the light.