4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: "After me comes the one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mark 1:4-8)
John Calvin abridged: All the gospels agree about the substance of John the Baptist. "He who comes after me is stronger than I"- declares that Christ is far superior in power and rank than John. The main thing of his message is that Christ is the source of spiritual baptism, while John saw himself as only the minister of outward baptism. John does not baptize without authority, but his outward baptism takes nothing away from the power and glory of Christ. So we may infer that his intention is not to distinguish between his own baptism and that which Christ taught his disciples. He does not contrast one invisible sign with another invisible sign. Rather, he compares the master to the servant and shows what is due to each one. John's baptism does not differ from our own (as some contend). In this passage we are able to deduce what is done in baptism by human ministers, and what is done by the Son of God. The Son of God, the Holy Spirit and ministers are all involved in baptism, but all the honor goes to the Lord and the minister must be reduced to nothing. Christ bestows all the grace that is symbolically represented in baptism: the death of the old man and regeneration of the Spirit- the washing of souls with his blood- all summed up in the words baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Thoughts: The humility of John the Baptist is truly amazing! In our day in which we seek to elevate the "self-esteem" of our children, and say things like- "If you don't elevate yourself no one else will" John's words remind us of our true place in life. John was content with his role as the springboard for the messiah. His message of repentance was heard because repentance without humility means nothing. In our day, too many want to point to themselves when we should be pointing, humbly and in repentance, to God. Yesterday the old familiar song of a person in power falling was sung again (Mark Souder). When the spotlight is turned toward us, the light shows all the dirt. The light should go toward Jesus.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to have humility this day. As I humble myself before you today, O Lord, I entrust myself to your care.