Places mean much to us. Where we were born. Where we got married. The first house we lived in as newlyweds. Where we were baptized. Where we had our first job.
Places of memories, of special moments, of important connections between people.
When the Jews sought to seize Jesus, he escaped from them to a special place.
“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed” (John 10:40, NKJV).
This rugged, isolated place would have made it harder for the authorities to grab our Lord. And in these difficult moments, the place would have brought solace to a tired, harassed man.
“Then many came to Him and said, ‘John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true'” (v. 41).
The masses followed Jesus out across the Jordan River. There, they recalled John’s testimony about Jesus. “Behold! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The One whose shoes he was not worthy to stoop down and unlatch.
The One on whom had descended the Spirit of God.
The One God had approved by his voice from above.
John was no miracle worker, performed no great signs, but was a Truth Speaker par excellence. He told things like they were. Never minced words. Never flinched from telling every person what he needed to do. Fiery. Passionate. Zealous. Straight as an arrow.
And he was right about Jesus.
“And many believed in Him there” (John 10:42).
There, where John had preached and baptized. All the rich associations of the Baptizer’s message came into focus upon the Man who was everything, who did everything, John said he was and would.
I want to go back there, too, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Back to John’s preaching. Back to simple sermons and clear messages. Back to rich associations, lots of Bible texts, plenty of explanation rising from the pages of Scripture.
I want to go back to fiery, zealous men of God proclaiming a straight-shooting gospel meant to convince and convert.
I want to go back to tears in the eye over the lost of the world, to urgent exhortations welling up from love of those condemned because of their sins, to passionate pleas to heed the promise of salvation procured at awful cost to the God of heaven.
I don’t want to go back, necessarily, to little country churches with pot-bellied stoves in the winter and funeral fans in the summer. I’m no old fool who, late in life, reminisces over what was lost and how the world just isn’t like it was in the old days. I like my conveniences, my ‘puter, my modern life, such as it is.
Repine I do, however, over the loss of zeal for God, for the Son of God, for the Word of God.
So I think I’ll go back beyond the Jordan where Jesus stayed. Where I can believe in Him there, with the echoes of God’s saints in the hills, rocks, and trees.
Would you go with me?