Scripture Reading — John 1:19-28
"He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
In the quiet world of ancient Palestine, John the Baptizer was an instant celebrity. In fact, it's likely that until John's death at the hands of King Herod, John was a bigger draw than Jesus himself. That would be understandable. John had dramatic flair that drew immediate attention. A camel's hair suit! His odd diet of grasshoppers dipped in honey! Hair that hung to his waist! All these scandalous features made him an instant celebrity! But it was his preaching that the crowds came out to hear. This man was a communicator! If you heard John once, you'd remember his message for a lifetime.
With his magnetic personality, John had the power to start a religious movement all his own. Years after John's death, Paul was still meeting people who identified themselves in terms of "John's baptism" (Acts 19:1-7). But an independent movement wasn't on John's agenda. John wanted his hearers to think of him only as "a voice." He was the voice in the wilderness calling men and women to prepare for the coming of their Lord. He announced the coming of one whose sandals he was unworthy to untie.
John's perspective is refreshing. In a world where men and women claw their way, grasping for greatness, John understood that true greatness lies in pointing others to Jesus. It's a lesson many of us could learn.
Lord Jesus, in this Advent season, keep the spot­light of greatness away from mere mortals like ourselves. Help us keep the Christmas light shining directly upon you. Amen.