In the presence of the
Son of Man,
John the Baptist humbles himself.
At the close of the American Revolutionary War, King George III said that if George Washington lays down his power as the Commander and General and establishes a real Democracy, “he will be the greatest man in the world.” King George was playing off what he knows to be true, deep in the heart of all men and women, they seek recognition and power.
As we read Mark 1:9-15, we should not pass quickly over the moment where Jesus approaches John the Baptist and asks to be Baptized. John was well established as a prophet, he had many followers, and so his response, kneeling down, is against his flesh and against his need to be in power. John kneels down and humbles himself before the Son of Man.
Submission is an invitation to leadership, and it is a significant theme running throughout the scriptures. We see it in David repenting before God for his sins, in the Prophets willingness to give up their reputation to proclaim God’s word, and of course here in John’s actions. The desire to submit yourself to another is born of humility.
When we resist submission, it is out of stubbornness and pride. The New Testament paints a beautiful picture of a church where each member is submitted to the other under the headship of Christ. The question we ask as a follower of Jesus is not what is my way, or my opinion, but we submit ourselves to the father and discern together, what is His desire?
- How have you seen someone be like John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry?
- How have you been like the Pharisees, pretending to do the work of God but really commanding attention to yourself?
- What does this passage teach you about God?
- What does it teach you about yourself?
- How can your Missional Community prepare the way for the work and ministry of Jesus?
God of grace and glory,
you call us with your voice of flame
to be your people, faithful and courageous.
As your beloved Son
embraced his mission in the waters of baptism,
inspire us with the fire of your Spirit
to join in his transforming work.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Spend some time this week praying for God to soften your heart towards his work in your life this Lenten season. Write ways in which you want to grow in your relationship with God during Lent in your journal.
Wake up an hour earlier than you normally do every day this week. Spend that hour praying and meditating on Scripture, preparing the way for the work of Jesus in your day.
Is there a way you could serve the least of these in our church or in our city? How can you invite accountability in as you humble yourself in service to others?
Lectionary readings for this week: Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Peter 3:18-22
Often, we sin against others and against God because of an inability to or an unwillingness to humble ourselves. In his book, Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley takes a look at how this destructive force can make its way into our lives and how the gospel of Jesus Christ can free us from it.