John knows who he is and who he is not, even if the people around him aren't so sure. "Who is this guy?" they're all asking each other. "Is he the long-awaited Messiah?" "No," John says, point blank. "I'm not the Messiah." John baptizes with water. The Promised One will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John knows who he is: the one who points to the One. He is a preacher, a proclaimer, a leader. He is not the Savior. He is who he is because of the Savior.
In our own questions of identity and worthiness, our pondering about who we are and who we are not, we'd do well to follow John's example. We are not Jesus. We cannot save ourselves or the people we love and serve. This is good news. We are, however, God's beloved, called to proclaim the love of Jesus as we are, where we are. This, too, is good news.
Naming God, remind me of who I am today. And of who I am not. Show me how you call me to be who I am, where I am, today. Amen.
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (NRSV)
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.
16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." ...
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."