Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day 3 - Humble Cousin John

Read: John 1:6-28

Humility is perhaps the most elusive of all virtues. The minute you think you have it, you've lost it. It has been said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but rather not thinking of yourself at all. We are told in Philippians 2 to have "the mind of Christ" who "humbled himself." Throughout the New Testament, we find humility as a key ingredient in living the Christ life. Enter humble cousin John.

After spending the opening verses establishing Jesus as the main character in his Gospel, the writer next introduces John the Baptist. Although John's role in the Gospel is short, it is among the most significant in all Scripture. Jesus once told His disciples, "There has never been a living person greater than John" (Luke 7:28). What was it about John that warranted such a high compliment from Jesus? It was certainly no mystery to the Gospel writer who knew John the Baptist well, having been one of his disciples. The author John would ultimately leave John the Baptist to follow Jesus (John 1:35-39). While it may have been offensive in Jewish culture to leave one rabbi to follow another, John the Baptist's own testimony points others to Jesus as "one greater" than himself. It requires humility to bypass the applause and acknowledgment of others, allowing God to receive the glory for which He alone is worthy.

John's ability to draw a crowd had gained the attention of the religious establishment. They sent a delegation to question him. They wanted to determine if he might be the Messiah. This could have been his moment to shine, but instead he deflected the attention onto another he claimed was far greater. John points to Jesus as one whose "sandals I am not worthy to untie" (John 1:27). He diminishes his role to that of a servant preparing the way for the true Messiah (Isaiah 40:3). He strengthens this claim by stressing Jesus' eternal being in verses 15 and 30, saying that although Jesus came "after" him, both in birth (John was six months older than Jesus) and into the public arena, He existed before John and all things created.

John also correctly identifies the true nature and purpose of Messiah Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” This is a remarkable revelation. The common understanding of the Messiah’s role in John’s day was one of a political and military savior. John never makes such a claim, instead rightly describing Jesus’ role as the sacrifice of God freeing the entire world from their bondage to sin.

John continually points to Jesus when asked about his identity and the purpose of his ministry. Would that every servant of the Savior, including this one, be so clear in purpose – so far from pride and self-importance that Jesus was not only the center of our teaching and ministry but was acknowledged as the sole end to all of our endeavors.

Jesus, My Humble King, 

Help me to have your mind as I seek to follow after you. Deliver me from pride and self-promotion. Like John the Baptist, allow all I do to point others to you. Make my only desire to make you known even as I am forgotten.

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