We will hear a great deal about John the Baptist in the next few days as he is a central player in the Baptism of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. His Feast will be celebrated on Sunday, the day after Epiphany (also called Theophany). It always astounds me what a profound example of humility John the Baptist offers to us for our Christian journey. His mission given by God, was to make straight the way of the Lord. He is called the Forerunner, and his entire mission (on earth and in Hades according to his apolytikon) was to prepare people to see Christ.
Today’s Gospel reading (you may read the entire passage below) reminds us that nobody has ever seen God, to whom God has not first revealed Himself. John the Baptist’s mission to prepare us to see Him should be an inspiration for us, because we also are called by God to prepare others to see Him. “Go thereofer and make disciples…” (Matthew 28.19) We have the same mission as John the Baptist if we accept the call of God.
There is always danger, for our soul, when working to lead people to God. Just as many thought that John the Baptist was the Messiah, many will think we are more important than we truly are. Many will attach their faith to God through us. If we fail to live us to the standards others have placed, which will inevitably will, they risk losing their faith. The only solution is to deflect the attention when it first comes. “I am not the Christ…..I am not worthy to untie.” These are the words of a man of humility keeping others from lifting him up beyond his place.
As we prepare the celebrate the Feast of Epiphany, consider the humility of John the Baptist, and then take it as your own. Embrace the call of our Lord to “Go therefore and make disciples” without allowing ourselves to be lifted up. We are not Christ. Our job is to point others to Christ.
No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No." They said to him then, "Who are you? let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said." Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordon, where John was baptizing. (John 1.18-28)