“He is the one who comes
after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
– John 1:27
During Super Bowl 39, a mortgage company sponsored a really creative 30-second ad. A husband comes home with a bag of groceries and a bouquet of flowers. Obviously he wants to do something really nice for his wife. He walks in, says “Hello!” to his fluffy white cat and immediately begins making dinner. He puts a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove, and as it simmers, he sets the table, where he places candles and arranges the flowers.
But as he’s cutting up vegetables with a large knife, the cat jumps on top of the counter and tips over the pan full of spaghetti sauce. Then, the little white furball brilliantly leaps into the middle of the red puddle on the floor. Trying to keep a bad situation from getting worse, the guy picks up his sauce-drenched cat with one hand while still holding the large knife in the other … just as his wife walks through the door. To her, it looks like “Friday the 13th: Cat Edition.”
At that point the commercial flashes the tagline: “Don’t judge too quickly. We won’t.”
In Jesus’ day, plenty of people judged too quickly. Some jumped to the conclusion that Jesus was just an ordinary guy from an ordinary town. They were wrong. Some people jumped to the conclusion that John the Baptist was the Christ—the promised Messiah. They were just as wrong. In John 1, John the Baptist set the record straight about who he was, and who Jesus Christ is.
The Jewish leaders wanted to know what this rogue preacher, John the Baptist, was up to. So the Jewish authorities sent a group of priests and priests’ assistants (Levites) to find out who he was, what he was doing and why he was doing it (v. 19).
they arrived, John the Baptist knew they wanted answers, especially to this
question: “Are you the Christ—the promised Savior and King of
John responded by quoting Isaiah 40:3-4, saying, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’” (v. 23). Not satisfied, they asked an important follow-up question: “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” (v. 25). John took this opportunity, once again, to point to Jesus: “Among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (vs. 26-27).
The very next day, Jesus emerged from the crowd and walked toward John the Baptist. And John knew EXACTLY who He was. So John the Baptist announced: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’” (vs. 29-30). And in case that wasn’t clear enough for everybody, in verse 34 John the Baptist said loud and clear for all to hear: “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
Here are three important life lessons we can learn from John the Baptist’s example:
Life Lesson #1: Fulfilling God’s will for your life isn’t just about knowing who you ARE. It’s also about knowing who you AREN’T. John the Baptist was one of the most effective followers of Christ in the New Testament, in part because he knew exactly who he wasn’t. Time and again some of his most devoted followers wanted to make him out to be something much bigger than he was, and every time he refused to be put on a pedestal. Do you know who you are? And do you know who you aren’t? Stop trying to be someone you’re not. Don’t pretend to be greater than Christ has called you to be. But just as importantly, don’t pretend to be less than Christ has called you to be. Know who you are. And know who you aren’t.
Life Lesson #2: The greatest Christian leaders are those who use the spotlight to shine a brighter spotlight on Jesus. When the crowd looked at John the Baptist and became attached to him, he redirected their attention, crying out, “Don’t look at me! Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” If you are a leader, it’s natural for your followers to like you. But do you lead them to like Jesus more? As you lead, some followers of yours may think too much of you and think too little of Jesus. One of the signs of a great Christian leader is how effectively he/she can direct the spotlight back to Jesus.
Life Lesson #3: People will be more likely to listen to what you have to say about Christ when you are humble and transparent. Don’t pretend you have all the answers, because you don’t. Don’t pretend you weren’t a fool before you became a Christian, because you were. Don’t pretend to be anything or anyone you’re not. Just be the humble, sincere follower of Christ that God created you to be. You’ll find that more people around you will listen to what you have to say about Jesus.
Dane Davis is the
pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us at our great NEW worship location in