“And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 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.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.” (John 1:19-28).
What does humility look like? Is humility found primarily in one’s appearance? Perhaps! In the case of John the Baptist, who is the subject of today’s posted biblical text, his clothing was certainly nothing you would find people wearing at the Grammy’s or the Academy Awards. Matthew and Mark described John’s appearance: he wore a camel-hair cloak with a waist belt made of leather (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).
Maybe humility is reflected in one’s diet. A humble diet may reflect the humility of the one eating. Eric Enstrom’s painting entitled Grace is one of the most familiar portrayals of a believer’s humility and dependence upon God for daily sustenance. You may be familiar with the portrait of an old, white haired man praying at a table in which sits a Bible, a pair of reading glasses, a bowl of soup and a loaf of bread. Correspondingly, Matthew and Mark described John’s diet as one which consisted of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6). Not something you might find listed on the menu board at Culver’s.
Perhaps humility has more to do with one’s attitude towards God, other people and for that matter, towards oneself. The Apostle Paul defined humility as viewing others as being better than ourselves (Philippians 2:1-4) as opposed to viewing yourself as being better than others.
When the priests and Levites, who the Pharisees sent, asked John questions about who he really was, he told them who he was not. He told them he was not the Christ, or the Messiah. He told them he was not Elijah come back to life, as some suspected would occur. He also told them he was not the Prophet, who is mentioned by Moses in Deuteronomy 18.
When they continued to press the issue, John identified himself as such: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (Isaiah 40:1-3). Additionally, in comparing himself to Christ he said, ““I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:27).
Matthew 11:11 records Jesus saying, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Greatness, according to God, is not based upon one’s clothing or diet. Rather, greatness in the kingdom of heaven is based upon the humbleness of one’s attitude in recognizing that we are slaves and Jesus Christ is the One we serve. He is our Master.
May this mind be in you as was also in Christ Jesus. Read and meditate upon Philippians 2:5-13.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Humbling Scripture, isn’t it?
Soli deo Gloria!