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Believe it or not, I am a ‘behind the scenes’ kinda guy. While I have no problem leading out front, I prefer to lend support to others in their vocation and ministry. This is probably one of the reasons I am drawn to John the Baptist.
By all accounts John was destined for greatness. His father Zechariah was a righteous Levitical priest (Luke 1:5-7). John’s birth was foretold by an angel (Luke 1:8-17). Like Sarah, John’s barren mother Elizabeth miraculously conceived him in her old age (Luke 1:24-25). Even in the womb, baby John praised and honored his cousin Jesus (1:39-45).
Eventually John the Baptist began his own ministry in the region around the Jordan River, proclaiming a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4-6). But even then, John knew the purpose of his ministry was to prepare the way for “he who is mightier than I” (Mark 1:7-8).
That moment finally came one day on the banks of the Jordan. Like John, Jesus was baptizing and teaching (John 3:22-23). Some of John’s disciples were frustrated by this apparent infringement on their master’s ministry (John 3:25-26). Who does this guy think he is? He is stealing our people and preaching our message!
John’s response is telling: “he must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John the Baptist willingly ‘takes the back seat’ to Jesus and his messianic ministry. John does not allow his past successes to define the goal of his mission. John was called to prepare the way, to be the forerunner—and now that task is complete.
On Saturday, June 24, the church celebrates the Nativity of John the Baptist. Perhaps the best way we can honor John is to give thanks to God for all the people in our lives who prepared the way for the Jesus and his gospel. Thanks be to God for those faithful saints who willingly worked behind the scenes to advance the Kingdom.
The Rev. Bryan BibaAssociate Rector, Adult Discipleship
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