Monday, September 14, 2009

Making a way

When it comes to humility, John the Baptist was no slouch of an example.

Today's evangelists tend to prefer plush travel conditions and a detailed list of requirements for their visits, but John declared himself unfit to even untie the sandals of the Messiah.

John had a successful ministry with many disciples and followers. Crowds followed him to the Jordan where he preached repentance and baptism.

Yet his defining statement was quoted in John 3:30: "He must increase but I must decrease."

In that context, I find it interesting that he compared himself to the prophecy of Isaiah. When the team sent by the Pharisees to judge his ministry asked him who he was, he said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. (John 1:23)

Is it odd for a man of such humility to declare himself to be the fulfillment of an old prophecy? John was so confident of his mission that he didn't use the prophecy to elevate himself, but to elevate his mission. He was called to clear a path.

Israel's terrain is very uneven, from desert to mountain. Those listening to Isaiah many years before would have understood how important a clear road would be. John referred to the same idea in explaining his mission. His job was to build an interstate highway for the Messiah.

John serves as a powerful model for us today. He was confident in what he had to do but had no concern that doing it would elevate him. He was not climbing a corporate ladder but simply making a way for someone else.

Can we do the same?

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