1 This is the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. 2 Long ago Isaiah the prophet wrote, “I will send my messenger ahead of you. He will prepare your way.” (Malachi 3:1) 3 “A messenger is calling out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him.’ ” (Isaiah 40:3) 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the desert. He preached that people should be baptized and turn away from their sins. Then God would forgive them. 5 All the people from the countryside of Judea went out to him. All the people from Jerusalem went too. When they admitted they had sinned, John baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothes made out of camel’s hair. He had a leather belt around his waist. And he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 Here is what John was preaching. “After me, there is someone coming who is more powerful than I am. I’m not good enough to bend down and untie his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water. But he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John the Baptist was a forerunner – he came before Jesus announcing that Jesus was coming. Mark’s Gospel starts with a rousing proclamation that gets everyone’s attention and bang we’re into it! John is baptising people for repentance and forgiveness. It was a revival – all of Judea got involved! It was a BIG thing – John looked, by his clothing, and sounded, by his message, like a prophet of old – the Jews would have thought something is really on the move and so as he says ‘get prepared’, people do – they get baptised. Yet notice that John doesn’t draw attention to himself. In fact he draws attention to the one who will follow Him.
I am challenged as I read this passage. How much do I draw attention to myself? Do I draw attention away from Jesus? Do I point people to Jesus? What is my attitude to Jesus, is it like John’s where he did not even think himself worthy of untying Jesus’ sandals?
Father please keep me truly humble and always a signpost to Jesus!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta