John the Baptist had an amazing calling. He was to prepare the atmosphere for the coming Messiah in two major ways. He was preparing the spiritual atmosphere for the coming King. And he was preparing men and women to look into their hearts and their lives for the ways in which they were falling short of the life God called them to live and to repent. In other words, to admit their sins and turn their lives around.
(v.4-6) John had a single minded, single hearted devotion to the task he was called to. He endured a very difficult life to be up to this task. It is usually the case that the bigger a calling God has planned for us, the more we must overcome in order to have developed the character to be the person He needs us to be for the calling.
(v.11-12) John was the greatest of prophets and understood even before Jesus’ ministry that what Jesus would bring the people was far greater than what he could speak of. John spoke of repentance from sin and Jesus did continue this message since this could only be achieved through Him. But John also understood the more powerful transformational process that Jesus would bring through the Holy Spirit. That for those willing Jesus would offer a greater baptism…the giving of the Life of God through the Holy Spirit, and the burning away of those areas of your life that is not of Him, which is the baptism of fire.
What has He burned out of your life recently? In what ways have you become more filled by His Holy Spirit?
(v.13-17) Jesus did not try to live outside His calling. He is greater than John. But it was John’s role to baptize Him and pave the way, even according to the tradition of the Law. Jesus submitted Himself to this baptism because it was of God, and part of His plan. Even though He is God, He came to earth as a man and followed the will of God the Father to live His calling to be exactly who God called Him to be. (Phil 2:5-11)
This is powerful. Even Jesus submitted. He submitted to many things, to His Father in all things, to His calling, to John’s baptism, to governmental authorities, and to death on a cross to name a few. He looked to God for the times when he should take command in a situation, and the times when He should take a lower place. He made Himself a part of what was going on in humanity around Him and letting God show Him where He should make His mark. We tend to look at ourselves as little independent islands, but Jesus did not view Himself this way.
The same should be true of each of us. We are part of a larger body where each has a unique part. Are you living the life God calls you to? Are you seeking God for direction on what that is? Are you living in community and helping others to do the same?
Please pass this study along to those who could benefit or help us in it.