Luke 3:7–18 (NRSV)
Verse 7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Verse 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Verse 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Verse 10And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" Verse 11In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Verse 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" Verse 13He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Verse 14Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."
Verse 15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, Verse 16John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Verse 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Verse 18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
John the Baptist was a powerful prophet. He gained many followers, he preached repentance, and he baptized in water. As seen in this reading, there were those who wondered, or perhaps even believed, that John was the expected Messiah. John, however, never did any of his important works to elevate himself. He was continually pointing to Jesus, the true Messiah.
Therefore, John is a powerful example for any of us on how to be a witness to the Messiah. He never sought to gain power and influence for his own earthly desires. Though it certainly could have been easy for him to do so, he did not make his ministry about his accomplishments, his desires, or his ego. It is tempting to claim glory for ourselves, to see the successes we’ve had as a reflection of our greatness—not God’s. Like John the Baptist, however, we should always be pointing towards Jesus—always giving him the Glory.
Lord God, forgive our tendency to claim glory for ourselves. We pray that you help us always keep you at the center of our lives and ministries. Amen.