The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?” But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.” (Luke 3:15-16 MSG)
What a word picture! Despite all the years of waiting, the people were still anticipating their Messiah and were wondering about John. "Maybe he's the one," they thought. John did not give those rumors time to get started. "Nope. Not me," he said. He went on to tell them a little about Jesus. I wonder what they thought when he spoke about baptism by fire. It is such a vivid idea in my mind. A blazing fire and somehow being lowered into it but emerging (hopefully) unscathed. It brings Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to mind.
When John explained his metaphor, he painted a beautiful picture, didn't he? The idea of igniting implies that the tender is ready and the fire is laid. Jesus is coming, John explained, to ignite the fire in our hearts with the Holy Spirit. It will give us "kingdom of God life" in our hearts and change us completely. We will be fresh and new. Here's the wonderful part that would be easy to miss: the Holy Spirit is coming to stay, to live within our hearts, and Kingdom life (the life God desires for us) is available permanently.
The pilgrims who walked the Emmaus road with Jesus described the experience with these words, "Our hearts were strangely warmed". In the presence of Jesus, that fire of the Holy Spirit burned within them and made them different.
The fire is laid in our hearts, the tender is ready. How bright is that Holy Spirit blaze? Are we keeping the fire stoked with Bible study and obedience to the commands of our Lord? What a wonderful thing it is to be cleansed, changed, warmed by the fire of His love!
Pray today that we would keep the fire burning bright with our faithfulness and that our loved ones will see that fire in us and want it for themselves.