It was a three day walk from his home in Galilee to the Jordan, but he was grateful for the time it gave to reflect and breathe. Walking did that for him, it also helped him reconnect with his world.
He narrowed his eyes as he spotted a few men labouring in a field. The one in charge was scowling, standing back, barking relentless instructions. The others were working hard, doing their best to add another barn to the clutch already there. No doubt it had been a good harvest, but the man in charge didn’t look satisfied or happy. Not at all.
He walked on.
A woman passed him, giving him such a wide berth she nearly fell into the ditch by the road. She was limping and hunched. His heart went out to her, but she wouldn’t make eye contact. No self-esteem. He wanted to stop the world, make everything wait until she had the strength to look up at him. He watched her scurry away and then walked on.
He made camp out in the open, gazed up at the stars, the same stars Abraham had looked at, night after night when longing for a son, the same stars those wise men had studied to find him as a small baby. He imagined flicking those stars from his fingers. He smiled.
He left early and came across a pile of blood-stained clothes. No, not clothes, a blood-stained body. He glanced around, wondering if it might be an ambush but the road was quiet. He knelt and revived the man, who told him a grim tale of being beaten and then ignored by passers-by. He shared some of his food and water, then helped the man to an inn not far away.
The second evening he was stopped by Romans, soldiers who searched him and made jokes about arresting him for vagrancy. They quipped about crucifixion, though crucifixion was only for rebels. He wasn’t planning on becoming a rebel was he? They asked. He smiled and told them a story about some tenants who murdered the son of the landowner. They frowned, made more jokes, shoved him and walked on.
But when they had gone and the darkness closed in again he felt incredibly alone. The chilling fears of the night clawed at him like a rabid creature. The faces of the soldiers rose and fell in the darkness. He didn’t sleep well, prayed a lot, and was happy to be up and walking again. And then he spotted the river and his cousin John and the crowds, and the clouds began to lift. Jesus smiled to himself. It was time to get baptised.