Today we meet John the Baptist, whom Jesus describes as the greatest. John knew his role in Salvation History. He knew when to start and he knew when to stop. He was the precursor, the one who prepared the way. He is the link between the Old and the New Testament.
John was a very successful preacher. He lived frugally in the dessert and proclaimed a message. “Repent for the kingdom of God is at Hand”. He preached a baptism of Repentance. His message was “Shape up or ship out”. It was the old testament message of “Turn around” or “Change your ways”. John baptised thousands in the Jordan. He was a most successful preacher. He was especially hard on the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees.
But John knew there had to be more to the message. He said one is coming after him, one so much greater than he. John knew there had to be more and he called this more the baptism of the Holy Spirit. John prepared the world for this. He pointed to Jesus. His beautiful words: “He must increase, I must decrease.” He knew when to start his ministry and he knew when to hand over to the Lamb of God.
The word “baptise” means to soak or immerse or perhaps to dunk. The phrase in the scripture means that the Messiah, Jesus, will totally immerse or soak us in the Holy Spirit. We must repent, we must turn away for sin, but the rest of the spiritual journey is a grace of the Holy Spirit. John knew there was more. He was waiting for it. We join with him in this expectation.