‘I’m baptizing with water,’ John replied. ‘But there is someone standing among you that you don’t know, someone who is to come after me. I’m not good enough to undo his sandal-strap.’ This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Now we get the clear picture. John the Baptist is really the launching pad for the spreading of the message of Jesus. That is the way the early church looked at it. Most of John the Baptist’s students followed Jesus, including at least two of Jesus’ own disciples.
John is the voice. He is announcing the arrival of Jesus. Here is the Prophet spoken of by Moses long ago. Even though he won’t accept the accolades, John is functioning as Elijah declaring the Messiah has come.
But, John is insisting don’t put me on a pedestal. John does have students who follow him but he is insisting that ultimately people should follow Jesus, not himself.
This is a word we need to hear today. We who are so caught up in a celebrity culture that we have turned our preachers into celebrities.
I think of Martin Luther King Jr. We just celebrated MLK Day. I wonder how many of the younger generations even know Dr. King was a pastor and most of his speeches were actually sermons? Dr. King pointed to Jesus. He taught the ways of Jesus. The last thing Jesus would teach is for Dr. King or any other preacher to become a celebrity.
We would be wise to heed John’s attitude. It’s the same as Paul’s later. Those of us who are preachers don’t preach ourselves, as Paul said, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for his sake (2 Corinthians 4.5). Or, as John put it, ‘I’m only a voice.’ It is in John’s humility that we see greatness.
Why is pointing to Jesus a sign of forgetting about yourself?