Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
John 1:19-28 (NRSV)
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
From what we know of John the Baptist, we can say without question that he was proof that clothes actually do NOT “make the man.” With his simple, rustic garments and hair that was probably worn in a style that approximated matted dreadlocks, he must have presented quite a contrast to the Pharisees with their flowing robes and ostentatious phylacteries. But John did not need fancy duds or elaborate religious gear to make an impression; he got attention by delivering his message with authority and self-confidence.
That message, “It is not about me, but about ‘the one who is coming after me…’” put the emphasis just where it belonged—on the real Messiah, the coming King—Jesus. John pointed his questioners to God’s son, who was among the crowd at that very moment.
While I am always struck by John’s confidence in speaking to the representatives from the Pharisees, I am struck, as well, by his humility when he spoke of Jesus. Over and over, John’s self-effacing comments emphasize his unworthiness even to be a servant to the One who is to come. How gratifying it must have been for John when he realized that he had actually baptized the chosen one—the Lamb of God!
Holy God, sometimes we feel, as John did, that we are not worthy to do even the most modest tasks in your service. Help us to remember that in Jesus you have made us worthy, because we are now your own dear children—brothers and sisters of the King.
Go with God.