In today’s Gospel, Luke tells us how God sent and used John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus to begin his public ministry. We must know that before Jesus’ glorious and life-giving work, there was John’s ministry to prepare the way. John’s ministry was primarily preaching the message of repentance and baptizing those who responded. In order to prepare for the Lord’s coming, we must repent of our sins. Many people hope for a great spiritual awakening in which they and their family members may be changed into holy saints, and their neighbourhood, and even nation may become like the kingdom of God on earth.
But we must know that to experience such great work of God, preparation is necessary. We can prepare for the Lord by repenting our sins. Let us do so as we listen to the word of God today. Then God will be pleased and will bless us by his grace. During that time, many people were coming to John and wondering if he was the Christ. As a human being, John was open to the temptation to share Christ’s glory. However, John used the opportunity to proclaim the greatness of Christ. Look at verse 16 “John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water, But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Christ is superior to John in the nature of his work and in the nature of his being. John explains Christ’s superiority in works by comparing their baptisms. John’s water baptism is important for those who receive it and are prepared to receive the Lord. However, it is far less powerful than the baptism that Christ gives. Water baptism was a sign of repentance and a public confession to begin new life, but it did not change a person’s inner nature. Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has power to transform our inner inner being by putting to death the sinful nature and creating a new nature like Christ’s.
In Acts 19, we find some men who had received John’s baptism only. They were sincere, but they looked burdened and gloomy all the time. Something was wrong with them. So Paul asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then Paul told them to believe in Jesus. When he places his hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit. They began to speak in tongues and prophecy with joy. They became spiritual leaders who brought the gospel to all. John explains Christ’s superiority in nature by using the image of a slave and his master. John said he was not worthy to untie Christ’s sandals, the duty of the lowest slave in a household. John said this because he knew who Christ really is. Christ is the Son of God and in very nature, God. On the other hand, John is a mere human being and a sinner. As God, Christ is the Judge of all mankind. He separates the fruitful from the barren. He blesses the fruitful with eternal life, but burns the barren in the fire. John’s message of repentance and forgiveness pointed toward Christ was good news for those who believed.