4 John was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5 Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Humility is a hard thing to master. In an age where all new digital mediums like Twitter and Facebook seem to be about personal promotion, it is hard to see images of humility these days. One place where humility being shown sticks out in my mind is in the 2010 incident with Jim Joyce. He is a first base umpire and he called a runner safe when he was definitely out which ruined Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. It was all over the news and the way that Joyce handled the incident showed great humility. You can see more by going hereand watching ABC’s report on the incident. This will give you the background to see what true humility looks like in the weeping and sorrowful eyes of Jim Joyce.
Humility is about understanding where one stands in relation to everyone around them. At times it is about who has the most power in the room, or the most respect. But at other times it is coming face to face with someone you have wronged or who is holier than yourself. When Joyce walks out to the pitcher’s mound the next day, wiping tears from his eyes, he understood where he was and who was standing next to him. I bet he only felt two inches tall in that moment. But he was met with grace and understanding (which speaks even more highly of how Galarraga handled the situation as well). In that moment I bet Joyce didn’t feel even worthy enough to tie up Galarraga’s cleats.
John the Baptist is hitting his stride and height of his popularity in this passage. He knows who he is there to prepare the way for and he is talking him up the best he can. People are looking to him and John tells them the one to come is someone he cannot even compare to. If you would put them side by side, Christ’s holiness would make John feel two inches tall and unworthy to tie his sandals.
When we stand in God’s presence we will all be struck with that humility, not because of God’s unbearable judgment upon our sins, but because of the love we will feel in that moment. The overwhelming love God has for each of us will be too much for us to take. We will all humbly bow and bend our knees. We will do so because when we look at who we are compared to who God is, we will be instantly humbled.
May we live life with that same humility in our hearts as we meet the people God loves, even in the mirror.