“The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Luke 3 15-16 (NIV)
John the Baptist was quite an extraordinary man. He had a miraculous birth, he was called to personally fulfil great prophetic promises, he was a powerful preacher and had many followers. Yet he remained humble. He claimed he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. That might not seem to be a far stretch for you and me but in John’s time that was a big deal.
The rabbis of Jesus’ day taught that a teacher could ask his followers to do almost anything except to have them take off his sandals. That was considered too humiliating to demand but John with all his accomplishments and the important job he had to do, felt unworthy to do this for Jesus. He had many reasons to feel proud, but he wasn’t puffed up and full of his own importance. He saw his true state clearly and recognised humbly his need for Jesus.
John’s message was a call to repentance. We might mistakenly think repentance is about feeling sorry for our sins, but it is much more than this. Repent is not a “feelings” word but an “actions” word. It speaks of a change of heart and a change in the way we live. John was calling on us all to humbly see our need for God, to be cleansed and live a life bearing much fruit.
For the Jews at this time, it was a common ritual for Gentiles who wanted to become Jews to submit to being cleansed by total immersion. John was asking Jews to be baptised this way. In effect he was asking them to admit that they were as bad as the heathen Gentiles. Many did. This was a true mark of humble repentance.
What is it that we consider to be beneath us? What are we too proud to do? When we consider who Jesus is and what He has done for us, our hearts are surely humbled. He not only untied our sandals, but he washed our feet too.
Our Loving Father, we can sometimes feel we have been called to do great things for you but help us to realise it is in the little everyday things that we do for others that we show your love. Humble our hearts so that we many be of more service to you. In Jesus’ name.
Study by Jackie Mill
About the Author:
Jackie Mill is a Pastoral Worker for Grace Communion International in Scotland and Ireland.
Gilmerton New Church
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