Exploring Matthew - Repentance = Turning Around?
...and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. Matthew 3:6 NASB1995
The east side of the Jordan was the wilderness from which their ancestors escaped. They didn't live there anymore. They were in the Promised Land but clearly something was wrong, or the people wouldn’t have come out into the desert to listen to a man wearing camel skins.
Remember the rich young ruler who came running to find Jesus? He claimed he was a faithful law keeper, and all was well; but if that was true, why did he come running to Jesus in the first place?
Today we are going to talk about the church I belong to, but the principles apply broadly even if you aren't a Seventh-day Adventist. In the early to mid 1800's, there was a revival that swept across the Christian churches in the United States and really across the world. The revival reached a fever pitch when a Baptist named William Miller believed Jesus was coming soon based on prophecies he was studying in Daniel. People from many, if not all the various Christian denominations heard and believed the message. What we don't realize now is that at that point in Christendom the truth that Jesus would literally return was virtually lost/forgotten.
Born out of that revival was the Seventh-day Adventist church. From a Christianity that had been languishing in the wilderness came a movement that believed the Promised Land was just ahead. The movement exploded from its humble beginnings in New England. Believers were baptized. They "crossed over the Jordan" as it were. But did anything change, really?
When the ancient Israelites crossed the literal Jordan one giant problem remained. They left the wilderness and Egypt physically, but Egypt remained within them. They were the disease they were trying to escape. Life in the promised land wasn't different or better because they weren't different or better. They passed through the water but there was no death, no cleansing, and no new life.
Could it be that Seventh-day Adventists have been waiting well over 150 years now for an external solution to an internal problem?
"Repent," cried John. "Turn from your sins!"
It's pointless to change locations or get baptized if we are unwilling to admit and confess where the real problem is. If the rich young ruler had accepted the invitation to turn from his own attempts at being "good enough" and stayed with Jesus, things would have been so different.
Baptism holds no power. Jesus is the heart changer. He may call you to be baptized but it can't end there. We need to die, to be washed, and to begin a whole new life where He becomes our promised land. Eternal living starts now. 🙂