A Meditation on Matthew 3:13-17
John stared naively at Jesus, words forming on his lips, but no sound coming out. Water lapped at their garments. Finally, he said, “Jesus, I can’t baptize you. I am unworthy. I just told all these people that I am not worthy to untie your sandals. Come on, you need to baptize me.” He looked around at the people on the shore, and started to argue with Jesus again.
Jesus interrupted and said, “John…John.”
John closed his mouth and looked into his cousins’ eyes. They were so dark and deep. Eternity was in there. He hadn’t always seen that look, but once in a while when they were growing up he had seen it. It always caught his breath, and he would forget everything around him and stare into those eyes.
“Permit this now, for in this manner it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” Jesus said.
John continued to look into those eyes. Words and images flashed through his mind. The scroll of Isaiah opened up to him. He saw the suffering servant despised and rejected. He saw him being crushed by God, smitten and afflicted. He remembered Isaiah’s words, “he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Then an image of a Roman cross flashed before him; he saw the crown of thorns, the spear, blood and water, and the sign reading, “King of the Jews.” He saw Mary weeping. And then he saw a stone being rolled away by angels, and Jesus walking out, clean and bright, strong.
John struggled to stay standing in the current of the river. He could feel his robes pressed to his legs and the sand shifting between his toes. His eyes were locked with those deep eternal eyes. Slowly, not able to understand what he had just experienced, he nodded at his cousin and reached for his head. As the images started to make sense, tears streamed down his cheeks. He lowered his cousin into the water, the words "all righteousness" echoing in his ears. Jesus closed his eyes and eternity ceased. Everything became quiet except for his own heartbeat pounding in his head. The water swirled over Jesus’ hair and beard, covering his face in an image of death. John felt the weight of Jesus' body in his hands. He raised him out of the water and those eyes opened again, this time filled with a sad determination. The sound of lapping water and voices from the shore returned. Eternity started again.
As he came out of the water, Jesus grabbed John’s bicep tightly, looked in his eyes again, and nodded back. Then he looked to the heavens as a dove floated down and a voice like water thundered, “This one is my son, in whom I am well-pleased.”