Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod was ruler of Galilee. At that time, a man named John lived in the desert. He was the son of Zachariah. God commanded John, and he went into all the country around the river Jordan.
He called men to be baptized. He told them to be sorry for their sins. He told them to desire forgiveness. If people were truly sorry for their sins, he baptized them in the river Jordan.
John wore clothes made of camel’s hair and a leather belt. He ate insects and wild honey. The people in that area came to him. They confessed their sins, and John baptized them in the Jordan river.
John spoke to the crowds of people. He said, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to run from the coming anger? Bear fruits that show you are truly sorry for what you have done. Do not say to yourselves, ‘We are children of Abraham.’ I tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones. Trees that do not bear good fruit are cut down and thrown into the fire.”
The crowds kept asking him, “What must we do?” He answered in this way. “Let him who has two coats share with him who has none. Let him who has food do the same.”
When the tax collectors came to be baptized, they asked John a question. “Teacher, what must we do?” He said to them, “Do not take more than the right amount.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what must we do?” To them he said, “Do not take money by force. Do not make false charges. Be happy with your pay.”
The people wondered if John might be the Christ. But John said to them, “I baptize you with water. But One is coming. He is stronger than I. I am not even worthy to untie his shoes.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is going to clean house and clean your hearts. He will make all things right before God. But the false things, he will throw them out and burn them with fire.” In this way, and with many serious words, he told the good news to the people.
Adapted from “The Children’s Bible” by Henry A. Sherman and Charles Foster Kent (1922).
Rights: Public domain in the USA.