Thursday, January 19, 2017

Day 4 - Humility on Display

Read: John 1:29-34; Matthew 3:13-17

John's baptism was for the repentance of sin (Matthew 3:11), so why would Jesus, the only perfect person, come to John to be baptized? In Matthew's Gospel, we read how John himself questioned Jesus about this. Jesus doesn't explain but merely answers, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15)

John obeys, and in Jesus' baptism, we see the humility of both men. For such a humble servant to be selected to baptize Jesus is a testimony to his significance and a reminder that God's economy is not our own.

There is nothing more humbling than being asked to perform a task you do not feel worthy to perform. Notice, I did not say "qualified" to perform. There is a big difference between being qualified and being worthy. A person may have all the proper credentials, training, education and experience to perform a task, but be totally unworthy to perform it. I have felt the weight of humility on several occasions as a pastor. It happened when I was called to serve as Senior Pastor of the church where I was baptized at the age of nine. I recall seeing the faces of men and women who had taught me as a child. People who played significant roles in my spiritual development were now looking to me to offer them spiritual direction. I had completed seminary and served for more than 15 years in churches. I was "qualified," but I will never be worthy of such a task. On many occasions, I have performed funerals for men and women whose faith and devotion dwarfs my own. I have performed countless funerals. I am qualified to perform funerals, but there have been many times I have felt unworthy to speak about the deceased when their life has spoken more of the Gospel than my words can ever repeat. Humility comes when we do not allow our qualifications to overshadow our worthiness.

Like his life, John's humility is completely overshadowed by Jesus. "The Word made flesh," the Creator of all things is humbling Himself in the waters of baptism at the hands of a man He created. Jesus does this not because He must, but because He is setting a pattern for those who would follow Him. His baptism foreshadows His ultimate act of humility on the cross. When Jesus invites followers to take up their cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34), He is inviting us on a journey of humility.

As Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, God confirmed to John, and everyone watching, Jesus’ identity as the Messiah (John 1:31-34). From the point of his baptism forward, John’s role decreased as the notoriety and reputation of his younger cousin increased. This is the same destiny for everyone who would walk with Christ. We become less as He becomes more. Only the humblest of hearts can tolerate such an exchange.

High and exalted King, 

Be highly exalted in me. Forgive me for allowing my qualifications to overshadow my worth. Keep me mindful of Your humble acts of service that I might not become satisfied with my own. Pride so easily deceives my heart. I invite you to cast your shadow over my life that I might be lost in You even as You are found in me.

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