I was thinking of doing a sermon on Galatians and for that reason was skimming through Acts (I never realised that Lystra and Derbe and Iconium were in Southern Galatia) and trying to get it in the context of Paul's missionary journeys. I decided I could never do what I wanted to do in a fifteen minute sermon. Sigh.
But I did read about the baptism of John a couple of times while skimming - and it actually started to make sense to me. Probably because I had Galatians in mind. Galatians being about the relationship between the law and faith in Jesus. The baptism of John is a baptism of repentance. In other words it is the realisation that where I am now is not getting me anywhere. The path I have been following and the life I have been living are not leading to fulfilment or satisfaction. I need a change in paradigm (post-modern for repentance). And so far the baptism of John is good. But it doesn't define or indicate what the new paradigm is. The next step is faith in Jesus which leads to salvation. For the Jews the old way was that of the Jewish Law. For Greeks it was philosophy/wisdom and hedonistic living. For the Romans? Not too sure. But none of these was effective. So the realisation of the need for more (repentance) and the anticipation of finding more (when faith in Jesus is understood).
What is the 'old way' for people in the congregation to which I sometimes preach? Not Jewish Law. Perhaps the pursuit of pleasure and self-fulfilment. Or legalistic Christianity. Materialism. The Law was like God's training wheels. Do we have training wheels in our culture today?
I need to work that out before Sunday!