“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
The Real Star
With these words, John the Baptist takes his place next to Dr. Watson, Ed McMahon, Art Garfunkel, and Scottie Pippen in the society of famous “second fiddles.” Dr. Watson didn’t solve the case. He marveled at the wits of Sherlock Holmes and then complimented the detective on a job well done. Ed McMahon didn’t sit behind the desk on The Tonight Show. He introduced Johnny Carson and then provided a hearty “laugh track” to the host’s comedic efforts.
Some of those famous second fiddles weren’t always so happy to play the supporting role. But John the Baptist was more than okay with it. In fact, he knew it was his divinely-given role in life to point ahead to the one who was coming after him. Before he was even born, the angel Gabriel told John’s father, “He will go on before the Lord . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
And when he grew up and started preaching and started to gain a bit of a following, even then John remembered that it wasn’t about him, it was about Jesus. “The one who comes after me,” John says, “He is the one you’re looking for. He’s the star of this show.”
What an example for us to imitate! What a blessing to play “second fiddle” to Jesus! It was the purpose and goal of John the Baptist’s life. It’s the purpose of our lives as well. Aware of our mountain of sins, aware of our spectacular failures in obedience, we echo John’s words, “I am not worthy.” But Jesus took our unworthiness to the cross. And now, in joyful thanks, we become John the Baptists—if not in appearance or mannerisms, at least in message and attitude. Our goal each day is to give Jesus glory—in how we interact with the people around us and use our time and abilities. It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.
Lord and King, forgive me for those times when I am overcome by pride, arrogance, or selfish ambition. Lead me to follow John’s example of humility and to glorify you all my life. Amen.