John the Baptist was a Jewish prophet. He told people that they needed to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, or deliverer of the Jews. John urged people to repent and to seek forgiveness for their sins. To show their repentance, people came to John to be baptized. John immersed his followers in the Jordan River. This immersion, or baptism, was symbolic. It signified spiritual cleansing and rebirth.

Today baptism is an important Christian ceremony. The ceremony still involves water, whether just a sprinkling or complete immersion. Why do you think water is used in this ceremony?