"He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."The untying of sandals was a menial task performed by house servants. When members of the household or a visitor would come to visit, a servant would untie their sandals and wash the dust from the road off their feet. Now don't go all OCD on me, it was simply a gesture of respect and honor that said "we're glad you're here." We all can testify to how refreshing it is to have clean feet, especially after they've been really dirty or sweaty.
John the Baptist labeled himself a servant, so low in relation to Christ that even untying his sandals would have been above him.
John could have connected himself to Christ in many ways that would have elevated him in the eyes the inquirers. For instance, he could have touted his blood relationship and familiarity with the Christ as his cousin and childhood friend, but he didn't. He could have talked of his miraculous birth and special calling, even from the womb to proceed the Messiah or made the case that his ministry was just as important. He could have related the story that even while still in the womb there was this "connection" between him and Jesus when their still pregnant mothers met together. But he didn't.
They thought he was Elijah or a prophet or the Messiah but his only response was I must decrease, He must increase. We must also have this attitude as John and even Christ himself had.
We must be careful that in accepting all the blessings we get from and because of Christ, we do not equate ourselves with Christ by exalting ourselves to His level or by pulling Him down to ours. He was John's relative but John never treated Him with nonchalant familiarity. He was John's friend, but John always addressed Him with highest regard and deepest respect.
He never saw Himself as an equal partner in the relationship or in the mission from God but remained a humble servant to God in heaven and God in the flesh. As a result, Christ honored and exalted John the Baptist. John truly learned that his highest joy was to be in the lowest place.
"Among those born of women, there has not arisen any greater than John the Baptist." Mt. 11:11 Andrew Murray wrote "make His glory your motivation to humble yourself; He will make your glory His motivation to perfect your humility." "Every Christian who seeks to advance in holiness should remember this: there may be intense consecration and fervent zeal, and if the Lord himself does not step in, there may be unconscious self-exaltation. let us learn the lesson that the greatest holiness comes in the deepest humility."
Christ humbled Himself-God exalted Him.
John humbled himself-Christ exalted Him.
"Christ will humble us and keep us humble, let us heartily consent, let us trustfully and joyfully accept all that humbles; the power of Christ will rest upon us. We shall find that the deepest humility is the secret of the truest happiness, of a joy that nothing can destroy."
Even holy indignation or excitement of spiritual revelation and growth can so easily become unrighteous judgement and prideful arrogance. Our boast must always be in Christ alone.
"Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you but that your name is written in heaven. (none of which comes by or through anything in yourself. It is the gift of God. " (Luke 10 :20) We must remain humble, like John, and remember that our highest place of exaltation can never and will never be above that place of at Christ's feet.
I ask myself:
Is Christ precious to me?
Is Christ holy in my sight?
Is He the treasure or is He common to me?
Has familiarity with Christ crossed the line into irreverence?
Is He like an old sweater or a costly garment to me?
Quotes from Andrew Murray's book on Humility. Scriptures from NASB.