Jesus is More Important than Me
John was not a pretty sight and his eating habits left something to be desired. But his diet of wild honey and locusts was nutritious enough and permitted in the Mosaic law (Leviticus 11:22). He did not bother to be politically correct because his task was not to make himself acceptable to society, but to point people to Jesus. There was something iconically prophetic about his dress-style (Zechariah 13:4). Elijah also wore a robe of animal's hair and a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8); and Malachi links John the Baptist's mission with that of Elijah (Malachi 4:5). Those were little pictures to help people to see that John was all part of God's plan – like Elijah he was calling God's people back to the covenant. Repentance was Elijah's theme, and so it was also for John.
After 400 years of prophetic silence since Malachi, John's message to 'get ready for God's arrival' was the last to ring out over Israel before Jesus started His ministry. However, the focus of John's message was not just to decry sin but also to announce Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away sin (John 1:29). By contrast with such a powerfully important person, John considered himself to be lower than the low. In those days, slaves would remove guests' shoes and wash their feet; but John felt he was so unworthy that he could not even be Jesus' slave and untie His shoe laces.
The message of repentance had got to John as well. The message he preached had first hit home to his own heart. He knew that he also was a sinner and needed to be washed clean by Jesus (Matthew 3:13-14). He was not better than the people he addressed; he had just accepted the message first. Neither can we afford the luxury of surrounding ourselves with the admiration of others, if our job is to admire Jesus and point others to Him. When we attract people to ourselves that is just where it stops! So much Christian 'bridge building' fails to encourage anyone to cross over to Jesus, because we block the bridge! It may not be much comfort to be a human bridge, because you get trampled on and you feel used, but if people can cross over you to reach Jesus, the job is well done.
The modern obsession with 'feeling good about yourself' reeks of moral bankruptcy. Why should we dignify such pagan ideas as being wise, when we know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? Security can never be gained by self-assertion, because God has designed us to feel insecure - unless we put Him first. So, today, instead of 'being someone' or seeking popularity, try decreasing your ego. Don't worry about missing out on the glory today. Glory can wait until eternity. In any case, Jesus said that those who seek and receive glory today will forfeit it tomorrow. Instead, choose to submit to those over you and serve those around you as a witness to the fact that you understand that you are merely the Master's servant.
© Dr Paul Adams