John heralded [Jesus’] coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, “What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.” – Acts 13:24-25
From this short passage, we can learn at least three things from St. John the Baptist:
1. We need to be men and women of repentance.
John was preparing the people of his time for the coming of Jesus, the Savior. At this time in history, Israel was deep in sin and needed conversion. The one who would save them from eternal damnation was about to come, so they had to prepare by repenting from this deep sin and turning back to the way the Lord wanted them live. In our time, we know the Savior has already come, and still we sin. The Savior has saved us from eternal damnation, but we so quickly reject his saving work. We need further conversion. We need to repent of our sins daily and turn back to the Lord.
2. We need to call people to repentance.
John the Baptist had a particular awareness about the Lord’s grace that others in his time didn’t have, so he shared that awareness by telling people about the coming of the Savior. So many people in our time have forgotten about the grace of the Lord, so we need to remind them of the power of his mercy. We need to remind others that there is more to life than the world we see around us. There is actually another world that awaits those who have humbled themselves before the Almighty God and who have imitated the Savior by denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following him.
3. We need to point to Jesus at all times.
As you might imagine, John was getting quite a bit of attention for preaching such a radical message. Some even thought he was the Savior. What was his response? “I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.” He redirected all attention to Jesus, the Savior. His life was different from those around him because he knew the Savior was coming and he wanted to be saved. Everything he did and said pointed to Jesus. We need to be the same way. Each of us needs to ask: Does everything I say and do reflect a lived relationship with Jesus Christ? How can I change my life habits so I can better reflect a lived relationship with Jesus? What’s one thing I can do today to begin pointing to the one who has come into the world to save us from our sins?
John’s life was deeply affected by Jesus even before the two met each other in the four Gospels. How much more, then, should our lives be affected, since we have Jesus living within us?