Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11
“The Church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed.” – John Wesley
John preached a baptism, a washing, (see Greek below) for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus came to John to be washed; yet he had no sin. So, why? Perhaps it was a statement of solidarity. Although Jesus had no sin, humanity is so plagued. Jesus is in solidarity with humanity, at one with us, and therefore at one with our downfall, at one with us wherever we may be. The challenge for us is to accept a two way street. If Jesus is one with us, are we bold enough to be one with him? Can we like Jesus go into the darkness of other people to open the eyes of those whose sight is dimmed by sorrow, raise them up from their daily deaths, and release them from the dungeons of life’s pitfalls? Often we can’t because, although we are starched and ironed, looking real good in church, we are not yet washed of our cowardice. But when washed in the daring of Jesus we will hear the same heavenly voice that spoke to Jesus, as he came out of the water. It will also say the same words to us: “You are my son, my daughter, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” This has nothing to do with being worthy or good. It has to do with being bonded with God and each other. Jesus’ solidarity calls for our solidarity.
In our day and age, and for many centuries, we have made words that were, in the time of Jesus, ordinary daily language into technical religious terms. This tends to separate religion from ordinary life. One example is the word “baptism.” In Jesus’ day the Greek word simply meant “wash.” In our modern English bibles we read: “They came to John to be baptized.” The original Greek simply says: “They came to John to be washed.” John was known as “John the Washer.” From our European background we might call him “Mr. John Washer.”
Washed in water deep.
Boldly into darkness gone.
Jesus gone ahead.