Logos Part 2: “Unworthy?”
John the Baptist was the greatest man that ever lived.
You’re thinking, “WHAT??”
Yep. Jesus said so.
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist… (Matthew 11:11a)
Let that one sink in for just a moment.
Can you think of a higher compliment?
Jesus was called the “logos“, the “word” or “self-expression” of God (John 1:1). This Son of God, one with the Father, perfect in every way, says, essentially, that John is the best person to ever be born. Not David? Not Solomon? Not even Moses? That’s quite a statement. What could make Jesus say such a thing?
Today we’re told that the path to greatness is found by making yourself the center of the universe. Go out and grab fame, fortune and everything that comes with it. If nothing else, our culture values the star. Go on a show, sing a song, and you’re an instant success. Your life is made. What more could you want?
Jesus’ attachment of great value to John should cause us to do a double-take, questioning our worldly assumptions.
- How do we determine the value of people?
- How much do position, possessions and popularity really matter?
- Am I seeking God’s approval, or the world’s?
- Is it possible for us to live a life that God values highly?
Let’s pause for a moment and see why Jesus regarded John so highly. Then we’ll be able to see our lives more clearly.
John’s greatness wasn’t derived from his position.
John’s birth was miraculous, his mother and father being very old when they had him. But his upbringing was simple.
“he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.” (Luke 1:80)
If Israel had a “Podunk”, this was it. John grew up far removed from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem, the spiritual center of the Jewish people. He would not have run in the same circles as the “movers and shakers” of Jesus’ day. Growing up in the wild, away from the public eye, is not how people typically achieve notoriety.
God called John to a prophetic ministry. He was to call people to repent of their sins and prepare themselves for the coming of the long-promised Messiah.
When John’s ministry became popular, he didn’t exactly let it go to his head.
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
John wasn’t in this to make his own name great. He never changed his message in order to broaden its appeal. He was not interested in advancing himself.
John’s greatness wasn’t attached to his possessions.
Even as an adult, John lived a simple life in the wilderness of Judea. People came out to see him, and noted,
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4)
This was the dress and diet of a man who rejected the world’s view of success. My study Bible notes say, “John’s simple food, clothing and life-style were a visual protest against self-indulgence.”
John didn’t get into ministry to get comfortable.
John’s greatness wasn’t measured by his popularity.
He spent his time denying that he was someone great. He was so charismatic, and drew such a following, that people were puzzled. “Who could this guy be?” When the spiritual leaders of the day finally came to investigate, they had this interesting exchange:
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:19-23)
How could someone who had such a powerful personal ministry not jump at the chance to make his own name great?
That’s not what John was all about.
John’s greatness was rooted in his recognition that Jesus was the Christ.
It really is that simple.
John accepted and responded to what God had asked of him. He was one of the few unique figures in history that truly kept his focus on the task at hand. When faced with success, he did not sell out. He kept his eyes clearly focused on the mission God had put him on, to make a way for the coming Messiah.
John had this to say about the coming Messiah:
26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:26,27)
In Jesus’ day, a host would cater to the needs of their honored guest. But even the best host would not untie the sandals of his guest. This was a job for a house servant, a slave. John says that he is not worthy to complete even this menial task for this coming Savior of the world!
- unworthy to untie Jesus’ sandals
- unworthy to be mistaken as The One
- unworthy to be called “The Man”
What humility. What focus. What a heart.
John’s entire attitude was summed up by this statement:
30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)
Are you now beginning to see why Jesus’ opinion of John was so high?
John did not consider himself unworthy because Jesus’ opinion of him was low. He counted himself unworthy because his opinion of Jesus was so high. I wonder what would happen in my life if I lived with the same kind of abandon of self that John did.
Are you willing to give up your position, possessions and popularity?
I’ve got to be honest with you. I wouldn’t mind an increase of any of those.
But is that where my heart is set? I think that’s the real question.
- Are you ready to live your life for the glory of Jesus’ name?
- Are you prepared to trade your position, your possessions, even your own popularity, so that Jesus’ name can be made great through you?
Let’s take one last look at Matthew 11:11. Jesus continues speaking about greatness:
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)
That’s right. If you are in the Kingdom of God, if you have been re-born into a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then you are considered greater than even John the Baptist. You are worthy of Jesus’ blood. You are worthy of a new status. You are now called a child of God, and the bride of Christ.
Jesus says you are greater than John because you have received Christ into your heart. This Savior is alive inside of you, and you are called to live a life that makes His name great. Are you ready to live as one who has been made worthy?
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