Saturday after the First Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Joshua 3:1-17 (NKJV)
1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. 2 So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”
5 And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” 6 Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. 7 And the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.'”
9 So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. 13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”
14 So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), 16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.
“Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.” (Josh.3:17)
The Children of Israel had long wandered in the wilderness. Repeatedly they had sinned against the Lord, and He sent various punishments to chastise them and call them to repentance. At long last they were entering into the promised land. By the hand of God they miraculously passed through the water. It was a miraculous passage made possible by the real presence of the Lord, the Ark of the Covenant, which was with them.
When John the Baptist came preaching and baptizing at the Jordan River, it was no accidental eccentricity. He was calling Israel out of the Promised Land, back into the wilderness, making them admit that they had not yet “arrived.” He was making them pass through the water all over again in preparation for the real presence of the Lord to come among them in the person of Jesus Christ!
Christ has come, died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and is raised again for our justification. How was this delivered to us? We were buried with Christ and raised to newness of life as we passed through the waters of Holy Baptism and entered into the promised land of the Church. Dear ones in Christ, rejoice, for in your Holy Baptism the new man daily comes forth and arises, who will live before God in righteousness and purity forever in the Promised Land of eternal life.