The people who had been sent were from the Pharisees. They continued to question him. ‘So why are you baptizing’, they asked, ‘if you aren’t the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?’
The Pharisees are checking John out because he is announcing a strange new message from God. When he dunks people in water, it’s a new thing for a prophet. In the Old Testament this is not spoken of.
There is ceremonial washing that becomes a custom for the Jewish people just before the time of Jesus. It is called a mikvah. There are several mikvahs outside of the temple of Jerusalem, for instance. People even had personal mikvahs attached to their homes.
You immerse yourself in a mikvah. There is not someone there immersing you. But, a mikvah is not a bath. In fact there are many regulations passed down about what is a proper mikvah and one rule is you have to be clean before you go in! Immersing in the pool is a sign of purity.
Nature with rivers and oceans provided the primordial mikvahs. So, we see the constructed mikvahs, beginning in the first century BC until present day, make it possible to have this sign without having to seek out bodies of water.
With John the Baptist we see a combination of a prophet announcing God’s plan and a mikvah- like immersion as a sign of a fresh start and a new way of thinking.
In Matthew 3:11 John explains, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God.”
To repent is to think at a higher level. Here the turning to God and turning away from sin is a better way of thinking. A sign to begin again.
When you are bathing or showering, think of it as a time to connect with God and remember you are baptized.