John the Baptist was hitting it big; he was packing people in. Mark tells us, “People from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” In our day and age, he would have been something of a media frenzy; he was receiving far more than fifteen minutes of fame.
The fame did not go to his head. He claimed no grandeur; he did not brag that he was greater than any prophet before him. Quite the contrary. Instead of focusing attention on himself, he said, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandal.”
That’s a remarkable statement of humility. In his culture, slaves and servants would bow down to unlace their master’s shoes. But John says he is not even important enough to do that menial task.
Later in the gospel, Jesus will teach the importance of humility in the lives of those who walk in the kingdom of God. Those who follow the way of Jesus do not exalt themselves over others.
Gracious God, thank you for John’s example of humble service. Touch us with your Spirit, so that we also may point away from ourselves to the wonderful gift of your Son. Amen.