Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
John 1:19-28 New Revised Standard Version (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.
I often like to ponder how Bible stories would play out in today’s celebrity-obsessed society. Noah? Crazy eccentric billionaire builds yachts to transport family around the world. Daniel? Animal lover spends night in cages with wild animals to prove a point. John the Baptist? Raggedly dressed speaker challenges a politically motivated audience.
In today’s scripture, John the Baptist is questioned by the priests and Levites on if he is a Prophet. His answer was “No…I baptize with water but among you stands one you don’t know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” Following my imaginations of placing John in today’s society, the story falls short. What public figure – celebrity or not – claims to be unworthy and less than anyone else?
The testimony of John the Baptist challenges us all to stand behind someone who is greater than us. Putting our own beliefs and ideas behind the divine inspiration of Jesus Christ, just as John the Baptist did, is hard to imagine…much less live. We often put ourselves before Jesus, as opposed to the one whose sandals we are not worthy to tie.
Dear Worthy One,
Help us to follow behind you rather than lead our own way. Help us to recognize the moments when we attempt to challenge like the Levites and priests, and instead let us put ourselves behind Jesus, just as John the Baptist did.
Go with God!