The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said,
‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
The inspiration for this painting is the event that, according to scriptures, marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry on earth. John the Baptist, a wild eyed, Birkenstock wearing, locust eating prophet had been calling out to the Jews for some time to “prepare the way of The Lord”, and “repent for the time is near”. He warned them to get their lives in order so that they would be ready for the Messiah’s appearance.
One day, around 30 years after the word became flesh, Jesus walks out to meet John at the River Jordan to be baptized. Immediately upon seeing Jesus, John proclaims that He is indeed the Messiah, the sacrificial lamb who would take away the sins of the world. Here before him was the one he had been sent to prepare the world to receive. Everything that he’d done up until this point had lead up to this moment. Jesus, God in flesh, had come to be baptized by a man.
John tells us that in that moment, he saw the Spirit fall on Jesus like a dove. There was a very visible change in Jesus’ countenance after this moment. He was fueled up and ready to begin his ministry here on earth. He immediately began recruiting and ministering to those around him that he would use to help change the world.
I find comfort in knowing that my God spent time here on this earth with humanity; the divine put on flesh and bone to be among us, so that we might know him more.
Chris does a great job of capturing this moment in his painting. You can see Jesus, robed in white to reinforce his purity and “lamb like” qualities. I love that the perspective of the shot isn’t from either John’s or Jesus’ perspective, but rather from the point of view of one who would be sitting on the banks of the river, witnessing our Lord and Savior being baptized, perhaps just as they had been moments before. He depicts John out in the water, expectantly waiting for his messiah to come and be baptized; I can almost feel how nervously excited John must have been in that moment.
There is a large original version of this painting on the wall in the Wesley Building at the First UMC here in Madison. It is positioned so that it is one of the focal points upon entering through the main doors of the building.
Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.