By Campus Missionary Mary Rowley
I think we can all agree, John the Baptist was a pretty stand-up guy. Some people might have considered him a stand-up comedian, with his camel’s hair clothes, leather belt, and diet of locusts and wild honey, but we know better. He wasn’t being funny; he was doing God’s work, and God’s work often looks very strange to outsiders.
When he proclaimed, people listened. When he preached repentance, it worked! “All the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (verse 5). But he knew that what he was giving the people was nothing compared to the gift his cousin Jesus was going to give. So instead of taking all the credit upon himself, he pointed the people to Jesus.
John was preaching repentance. Jesus, on the other hand, was going to bring something much greater: the Holy Spirit. John knew he wasn’t qualified to give the Holy Spirit, but he had it in abundance. He could use that great gift to prepare others to receive it. We are also not qualified to give the Holy Spirit to others. Only Jesus can do that. But he gives it to us freely, and we can use that gift, as John did, to prepare others. Luckily it’s not required for us to wear camel’s hair or eat locusts. All Jesus asks of us is to not waste the gift he’s given us.