John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:4-5)
The wilderness in Scripture was not some beautiful garden-like place where people went on vacation. Wilderness was wild, uncivilized, stripped of all niceties and refinement. Israel had spent forty years in the wilderness during the Exodus to purify themselves from all the toxic Egyptian cultural practices. It was a place for spiritual death and rebirth.
John’s clothes of camel’s hair and leather belt, reminded the people of the Old Testament prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). Sort of like wearing a red cape to remind people of Superman. But John/Elijah had a stronger purpose than Superman, to call the hearts and lives of people back to God.
John called people to recalibrate their vision of life, success, and values. They were baptized as a cleansing of their sinful ways so that they could begin anew, fresh and clean.
Now as 2011 concludes, we can come to our Lord seeking a fresh beginning, a new start in 2012. We can confess our sin, knowing that God forgives us our sin and will give us a clean start.
Try this the next time you take a bath or shower. As you wash the sweat and dirt of the day, say to yourself as you pray to God, “I am cleansed, body, mind and spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Then step out into the promise of vibrant new life in Christ. Resolve to act as a child of God, seeking God’s path this day.
Lord Jesus, cleanse me and make me new.