I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
-John baptized at the river Jordan and taught multitudes including the Pharisees and Tax collectors. He openly rebuked the religious leaders calling them brood of vipers with the objective of bringing everyone to repentance in Christ. His focus was not on himself but on Jesus our Messiah even when he had the opportunity to exult himself given Isaiah’s prophecy which spoke of him (Isa 40:3). He considered himself as a slave to Jesus and was unworthy to carry or loose His sandals (Jn 1:27). Loosing and carrying sandals was common practice often entrusted upon foreign servants as their masters went to take a bath at the cistern. John the Baptist thus described himself as unworthy to perform this lowest form of service given the authority of Jesus; even when entrusted with the opportunity to baptize Him. After His baptism, God confirmed that Jesus was His beloved Son and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. As John baptized with water unto repentance, Jesus redeemed all people through His blood and gave us His Holy Spirit so that we may live forever with Him. We are called to humble ourselves before the Lord and completely submit to His will unto repentance so that He may increase in us as we decrease (Jn 3:30).
After the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt, they journeyed through the wilderness for forty days and their clothes and sandals did not wear out. Though God was gracious and kind to them, they did not appreciate His goodness but kept on murmuring and complaining. God had also chosen for them a leader; Moses journeyed with them from Egypt through the wilderness. Moses was called through a miraculous encounter where the burning bush lit but was not consumed. God instructed him to take off his sandals for the place he was standing was holy ground. This was an instruction to submit his wisdom to the authority of God and wait for His direction. After Moses died, God chose Joshua and gave him the same instruction; to take off his sandals for the place he was standing was holy ground. It was imperative that Joshua would be guided by God as a judge and in the fight against the city of Jericho; so as to acquire victory. God in His loving kindness also rewarded Ruth for her dedicated to Him when she left her country, people and culture to follow Yahweh. Boaz became her kinsman redeemer by redeeming the redemption rights of his closest relative and as oath took hold of his sandals. Jesus our Provider and Redeemer commissioned His disciples and instructed them to only carry a staff, one tunic and sandals in their mission to spread the gospel. In this mission God revealed Himself faithful to them as He does to us everyday by providing for our every need. As God called His disciples to spread the gospel of peace and love, we too are called to do the same thing as we submit our authority to Him and wait on Him, and He will direct our paths. In the realization that we are all sinners and constantly need Gods’ mercy, let us always come to Him in humility and repentance and at the appointed time He will lift us up.
Lord of mercy and grace. We come before You this day with humility in our hearts, have mercy on us and cleanse us from all sins with Your precious blood. Fill our hearts with Your humility, love and peace Holy Spirit that we may always submit to Your purposes and be willing to follow Your path of truth. You are the way, the truth and the life Jesus; shepherd us, our families, churches, leaders and nation in the way we should go. May You always increase in our hearts as we decrease; for we seek more of You holy Spirit. May Your peace that surpasses all understanding dwell in our nation and on the whole world so that we may all come to faith in You. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the love of God; and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; be with us now and forevermore. Amen
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