“Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals.”
Tuesday, 12 January 2021
In these words, we see John’s humility and awareness that he is only the messenger, the herald of the one who was to come after him. John’s ascetic ministry of preaching and fasting had begun perhaps years before, and he had many of his own disciples. We hear that many people from Judea and Jerusalem had made their way to him to be baptised and confess their sins.
John is not looking to compete. He has a reputation as a holy man. His witness and preaching have been influential, but he does not want people to get stuck there. Instead, he wants them to follow the one he has prepared the way for.
Matthew’s account of the baptism says that John did not feel it was appropriate for Jesus to be baptised by him: “It is I who need baptism from you and yet you come to me.” (Matt 3:13). John and Jesus have different roles to fulfil. And John may have been among the first to recognise him as Messiah.
Where do we sometimes get focused on ourselves in our work or ministry and forget that it is to Christ to whom our words and actions need to point?