Know Your Role!
“15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[b] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.” Luke 3:15-18 NIV
As John continued his ministry, he began to gain substantial influence. In Luke 3, it is clear that he had made such an impact on those around him that people began to wonder about John. They knew that something was different about John, but they started to wonder, “Is there something special about John?” “Could John be the Messiah we’ve been waiting for? Is he one of the Old Testament Prophets?” Because the Jewish culture of the day longed for freedom from Roman rule, people surely wondered if John was one of the Prophets from the Old Testament who had come to free them from Roman rule.
We have already seen early on that John knew his calling. Knowing one’s calling, also means knowing what one’s calling is NOT. When the attention of the ministry began to focus and turn to John, he knew that he was NOT called to bring glory to himself. When the crowds started to turn to him, John was quick to recognize that he was not trying to draw followers of himself, but rather, he was appointed as one to live his life to point people to the coming of the Messiah.
By the way, that is the calling of the Christian as well. No matter how successful the ministry we serve in, no matter how influential we think we are, no matter how fancy the facilities we minister in are, no matter how large the crowds we preach too, no matter how many baptisms, no matter how many respond to the altar calls, no matter how much money the ministry brings in, and as tempting as it may be, we are not called to have people come to follow us. Like John, we are called to lift up and draw people to give their attention and affection to the Messiah. No matter how disciplined we are, how much we pray, how much we tithe, how often we serve in the church, or how often we fast, we are ALWAYS called to point the way to Jesus.
John serves as a strong reminder that we are called to know our role and prepare the way for the coming King of Kings. Roads were valuable in the ancient culture to provide footpaths or roadways over difficult stretches of land for animals like horses or camels that carried necessary supplies. Whenever a roadway was to be found back then, like today, it was clear that someone had gone before and “prepared the way.” Whenever the Holy Spirit enters the heart of a Christ follower, it is because someone has gone ahead and “prepared the way.” John serves as a reminder that we are to “prepare the way” for the coming King to be looked to and lifted up.
John knew that his role was not to be lifted up, but only to point the way to Messiah. It is said that the rabbis of Jesus’ day taught that a teacher could require his followers to perform almost any task, except to have them take off his teacher’s sandals. This task was too humiliating and too degrading for a follower to perform and according to the Rabbis, would be just going too far.
When John points to Jesus, he says that he is not worthy even to do this for Messiah! John had a clear understanding of his role. He was not Messiah. He was not the prophets of the Old Testament. He was simply one who pointed the way to Jesus. That, by the way, is the role of the Christian leader today as well.
Holy Spirit thank You that You choose to work through me to “prepare the way” for the coming King of Kings.