Cornerstone exists because of Jesus. We are a people who have been transformed by the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has forgiven us and adopted us into his family. Now, we have a whole new life.
Through the gospel, God redeems us, forgives us, and adopts us into his family. The good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection makes each one of us a new creation and gives us a new identity: children of God. This is why we can never think of the church as an organization or a building. The church is actually a family—God’s family, filled with redeemed sinners that are now his children.
Through the gospel, God forgives us, adopts us into his family, and makes us his disciples. This means that the church is not just any family. We are a family formed by God—and sent out with a purpose.
The church is a family that ministers to one another, cares for one another, and builds one another up. Each member of the family is a child of God who is uniquely gifted to bless the family and to be a light in our city.
Just like a vine grows best with a good trellis, our church family grows best with good programs. Our programs and ministries are tailored to support the community and mission God has given us.
“As he baptized with water, he waited for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, the one who would set Israel free.”
As we enter into the Lenten season, we prepare our minds and hearts to observe Jesus’s painful sacrifice on Good Friday and his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. In an effort to more deeply interact with scriptural truths, we are presenting some written historical fiction pieces that correspond to verses traditionally read during these weeks of Lent. These presentations have been created by Cornerstone members with the blessing and consultation of Cornerstone elders.
Our hope is that these written pieces will help you to meditate on the life of Christ as told in scripture, and that leading up to Easter we may all find something beautifully new to appreciate about our Living God, who gave up his very life for us.
The sun was warm on John’s face, a gentle heat in contrast to the desert. He had spent the past few weeks proclaiming a baptism for God’s people, a baptism of repentance of their sins. Many came asking questions - was he Elijah? Was he the prophet? He could only answer, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
The Jewish leaders didn’t understand who he was or what he was doing. And even he himself did not know for whom he was preparing the way, but he knew what God had called him to do. As he baptized with water, he waited for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, the one who would set Israel free.
He stepped into the river Jordan, the cool water lapping at his feet, surveying the nearby shore and those who had heard his proclamation. These brothers and sisters of Israel were eager to confess their sins, eager to repent and be cleansed. John considered it a mercy from the Lord that a sinner such as himself should partake in their repentance. “Truly,” he thought, “The Lord of Israel is merciful!”
John baptized throughout the morning, offering praise for each person that God, in his infinite wisdom, was preparing. Finally the prophet stepped out of the river, believing he was done for the day. But then he raised up his eyes, and saw a certain man walking toward him - his cousin, in fact. And as he looked into Jesus’ face, he knew: this was the One they had waited for.
As he beheld the Lamb, John’s inner being was stirred as never before. He cried out, “Behold!” as he grabbed the arm of his disciple standing next to him, turning him to make sure he saw, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” Oh, that all of Israel might know him!
Jesus approached John and requested to be baptized. John looked at him, incredulous.
“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
But Jesus placed a hand on his shoulder and answered, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” And John consented.
The men waded back into the water, and John lowered him below the surface. But suddenly, once Jesus was underneath, his body felt heavy in John’s hands, as though rocks were tied around him. The weight was great, and it felt as though he were sinking deeper. John tried to lift him back up, and felt a great resistance. For a brief moment, his heart was troubled - would he be able to bring him back up?
But almost immediately, Jesus was lifted up out of the water, though not by John’s doing. Then, to the awe of those gathered, the heavens were torn open, and the Spirit of God descended like a dove, coming to rest upon Jesus. This was the sign by which God had told John he would know the one who would baptize with the Spirit. And as John beheld this, it confirmed in his heart what he knew the moment he saw Jesus approaching him.
And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The prophet knew the voice, for he had heard it before. It was the voice of the one who had made him, the voice of the one who sustained him, the voice of the one who had called him to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness. And in his heart John longed that all of Israel would hear and respond.
When these things had passed, Jesus embraced John. And though he said nothing further just then, John looked him full in his face and had all that he needed. The Lamb of God had come. He had devoted himself to the purpose of fulfilling all righteousness - not for Himself, but for sinners.
“Praise the Lord of Israel,” thought John, “for truly he is merciful.”
Ashley is a member of Cornerstone and serves as a Web Content Editor.
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