Splash

 Matthew 3: 13-17, An idea of how it might have been. 

Figure study by Juan Carreño de Miranda, in preparation for his painting Christ Baptized, circa 1682

He stood up to his thighs in the water, scruffy and unkempt but clean and wearing cheap, rough ill fitting clothes. He was at a wide, relatively shallow river crossing close by where people came from the village to collect water, or to cross. He had not been immersed himself but with his bending and the splashing he looked as if he had; water dripping from his long hair which he was constantly flicking out of his eyes.

Every so often there would be another splash as he ducked someone else under the slow, flowing water of the Jordan river. John was Baptising the people who came to him, that were prepared to repent and seek the forgiveness of God for his or her sins.

John had baptised many people that day, perhaps hundreds but nevertheless a small group waiting and watching from the river bank, who all seemed to defer to one of their number, had caught his attention. In particular, a slim youngish looking man in the group, with a look of sinewy strength about him, had intrigued John so he guessed this was their leader. After watching with his friends for a while, the slim man picked his way carefully over some stones by the river’s edge and walked slowly into the water to wade towards John, fully clothed. He did not even remove his outer robe as so many others had.

John turned back to the man in front of himself, waiting to be baptised, and asked him his name and said “Do you promise to sin no more, to obey God’s laws and seek his forgiveness?”. After the man had answered yes, John placed one hand on the man’s back between his shoulder blades and the other on his forehead. Pushing him back into the water, face up, John immediately assisted him to stand upright again, using the hand at the man’s back. As the man shook the water from his head and blinked it out of his eyes, John knew, without looking round, that the man he had seen earlier on the bank was behind him waiting his turn.

Turning to the man whom he already knew stood behind him, although he did not yet know the man’s name, he found himself looking into a pair of intelligent, piercing eyes that seemed much older than the look of the man himself would have suggested. “I’m Jesus, I’ve come from Galilee to be Baptised” the man said. “I can’t” John said, “it’s you who should baptise me”. “You must do this” Jesus said, so placing his hands as he had on so many others already that day, John pushed Jesus quickly back immersing him in the Jordan river and bringing him back to his feet.

As Jesus started to wade back toward the riverbank, the clouds overhead parted letting the sun blaze through like heaven had opened, catching a dove in it’s light and making it look as if the light were shining around it and casting it’s shadow briefly across Jesus, like the Holy Spirit passing over him. Everyone by the river saw this and also heard a voice, as the Spirit passed over Jesus, say “This is my Son, that I love; I am well pleased with him”.

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One thought on “Splash

  1. Pingback: Splash Again | Entertaining Angels

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