Vol VI   No. V About 2,000 Years Ago Price: 1/16 Denarius  

Strange River Man Draws Crowds

River Man Starts New Religious Practice At Jordan
   (LUKE 3:1-14) Several weeks ago a strange man came to our area and has been drawing a lot of attention, both good and bad, from the Jews. Calling himself John, this man has been practicing a new religious ritual in the waters of the Jordan River. He calls the practice "baptism" which involves fully immersing a willing subject under water and bringing them back up again. A multitude of people have been coming to him to be baptized. One day the lines were so long that some participants waited as long as 3 hours to be immersed by the man.
   "I preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins," John shouted to the crowds. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
   River Man has some odd features about him. He dresses in a garment of camel's hair, wears a leather belt around his waist, and the only food he has been seen eating has been locusts and wild honey. "He is one strange man," said one skeptical bystander. But many others don't agree with that assessment. "I feel like a transformed person now that I have been baptized," says one supporter. "Since I have confessed and repented of my sins, it's like a giant weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel like a new creation."
   Even though John's popularity is growing daily, he keeps referring to one who will come after him and continue this "baptism" process. "The one after me will baptize with the Holy Spirit," John told us with a very solemn look on his face.
   I guess time will tell just how bizarre this baptism trend will actually go before someone brings it to a halt.
King Herod Included In River Man Rebuke
   (LUKE 3:19,20) It seems like John the River Man has no problem saying exactly whatever is on his mind. On one hand there is a kind and gentle man who tenderly leads people into the Jordan River for a baptism, speaks to them softly with a smile, and then gives them a hug when the baptism is complete. On the other hand he has not backed off from rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees for their lack of genuine Jewish leadership abilities.
   But lately when he made some comments about King Herod and some of Herod's alledged escapades with Herodias his brother's wife, that drove Herod into a rage. As of now, no action has been taken by Herod. But rumors around the Herod house says he plans on "taking care of this river nuisance."
Jewish Leaders Furious Over River Man's Accusations
   (MATTHEW 3:7-10) Many of the Pharisees are extremely upset over the words John the River Man is saying to and about them.
   "He called us a 'brood of vipers' and other names," one Pharisee said. "Also he is trying to lecture us on our behavior as children of Abraham. He knows nothing! What does he know about Moses and the Law? Nothing! And then we asked him who he was and he responded with some nonsense about him being a voice from the desert. We know he is not Elijah, the Christ, or the Prophet. Therefore that makes him nothing."
   Others nearby who heard the confrontation between the Pharisees and John the River Man had this to say: "We think the Pharisees are just jealous because John is getting all the attention these days and not them."
   When asked about this possibility, the Pharisees refused to comment.

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