January 2, 2023
Our Gospel shows us that John the Baptist was a man who was clear on who he was not and who he was. He was also clear on who Jesus is. So he was able to point others clearly to Jesus as the only Savior whom they desperately needed.
We need to be clear on who we are in God’s kingdom so that we can effectively point others to Jesus for salvation.
To appreciate this section, we have to use some holy imagination to put ourselves in John’s sandals. Imagine God has called you to preach, even though you haven’t had any formal training. To be honest, you’re a bit different in how you dress and in what you eat. Rather than the common linen tunic, you wear a camel’s hair garment with a leather belt and your diet consists of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4). You don’t quite blend in with the mainstream of your culture! You don’t go to the capital to launch your ministry, but are “out in the tules”. Your message isn’t exactly user-friendly or sensitive. Your opening line is “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? A ministry consultant might tell you that you need to improve your public image! “ (Luke 3:7)
But surprisingly, thousands are flocking to hear you preach. You’re baptizing many who repent for the forgiveness of their sins. And then, one day a delegation of nicely-dressed fellows from the religious “big boys” in Jerusalem arrives to check you out. They take you aside and ask, “Who are you?” It could be a bit threatening if you weren’t sure of your call and your message!
But John was clear on who he was not and on who he was. And because of that, he clearly pointed the religious bigwigs to Jesus.
1. To effectively point others to Jesus, we need to be clear on who we are not (1:19-21).
“I am not the Christ”
“I am not”. When asked if he is Elijah
“No”. When asked if he was the prophet.
2. To effectively point others to Jesus, we need to be clear on who we are (1:22-28).
“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness…”
“I baptize with water. . .”
“…He who comes after me, the strap of sandal I am not even worthy to untie.”
3. When we’re clear on who we are in God’s kingdom, we can effectively point others to Christ.
John didn’t defend his baptizing, he just pointed once again to Christ.
The Jews’ way of thinking was like this: Why would you baptize Jews since we don’t need baptizing; we are already in the kingdom?
The point is this — John’s baptizing work was only in anticipation of the coming of Jesus.
John’s baptism was a way he pointed people to Christ.
Does our work glorify God even though we do not get the credit? Do we work behind the scenes for Christ, His Church and the Gospel without expecting any fame or fortune in return?
Rev. Fr. Cesar C. Vergara