I always enjoy seeing how different movies characterize John the Baptist. In the portrayals I’ve seen he usually looks like a wild-eyed lunatic.
I get it. He lived in the desert. He ate bugs and honey. He wore a belt.
None of this means he lived like a crazy person.
No doubt John was a bit eccentric. Jesus had pretty high praise for John, though.
I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. (Matthew 11:11a NET)
There are many noteworthy characteristics in John’s life and ministry. However, one always stands out to me. And it wasn’t that he ate honey or that he wore a belt.
What stands out to me is John’s bold humility.
I know that sounds like an oxymoron. That’s what makes it so intriguing. John was incredibly humble. He was also strikingly bold.
John’s boldness is evident when he comes out of the wilderness and begins preaching. John confronted his hearers with their own sinfulness.
So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:7-9 NET)
John’s boldness wasn’t restricted to a particular segment of the population. John was bold with everyone.
John warned the common people. John warned the religious leaders. John also warned Roman soldiers which could have been a very dangerous proposition indeed.
Above all of this, John boldly rebuked Herod the tetrarch. This boldness resulted in John being imprisoned and eventually executed.
Soldiers. Leaders. Everyone else.
No one was immune from John’s call to repentance. Other prophets have been bold, too. They’ve been willing to boldly speak the Word of God to royalty and commoners alike. In this, John was not particularly unique.
John’s ministry is so special because he overlapped with the coming Messiah. John was the forerunner of the Lord. When Jesus arrived on the scene John’s humility came to the forefront.
He boldly proclaimed that his own position was nothing compared to the Coming One.
but one more powerful than I am is coming– I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. (Luke 3:16b NET)
Rebuking religious and civil leaders was no problem for John. But, he knew he wasn’t even worthy to perform even the most menial of jobs as a servant of Jesus. John didn’t consider himself worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals.
I think modern followers of Christ could learn a lot from John’s example. John thought very highly of Christ. He was unimpressed with worldly stature. God commanded him to go and preach. So, he went. And he preached.
Some may say that this type of boldness is foolish. After all, it cost John his life.
But our Lord tells us:
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more they can do. But I will warn you whom you should fear: Fear the one who, after the killing, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5 NET)
Christians are servants of the living God. We are ambassadors in His kingdom. He has given us a stewardship over His glorious gospel. He has sent us into the world to proclaim His excellencies.
Do your activities indicate that you think too lowly of Christ and too highly of other persons? Do you disobey and dishonor Jesus because it would be “inappropriate” to obey?
The demands of the culture urge us to disobey Christ’s commands in the name of tolerance, political correctness, and privacy. This was true in John’s day, too.
Thankfully, we are not all called to live in the wilderness.We are not all called to eat locusts and honey. We are not all called to preach publicly.
Most of us do wear belts from time to time.
However, we are all given the ministry of reconciliation. We will all stand before the Lord and give an account for what we did while in the body.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. (2 Corinthians 5:10-11a NET)
We could all grow in our bold humility. For the love of our God and the love of our fellow human beings, we must obey Jesus and point everyone to the Savior while we have breath. Bold humility will be the fruit of seeking what John himself sought:
“He must become more important while I become less important.” (John 3:30 NET)
Will you let your humility toward God drive a bold obedience to Him for the praise and glory of His name? That’s the path to being great in the kingdom of God.