May 21, 2012
Greater, Mightier, Worthier
“But One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes
I am not worthy to unloose.”
John was a burning and shining light who came to bear witness to Christ. In his encounter and reply to the people, he spoke of Christ as being mightier, more worthy, and of doing a greater work. It is very possible that the descriptive, “mightier” does not refer to physical strength alone. Recall that in the Old Testament, God’s might is frequently alluded to when He describes Himself as the Redeemer Who brought Israel out with a mighty hand. So the testimony to His might could well refer to His ability to not only bring Israel to repentance, as John did, but to bring them into the good of redemption.
He was more worthy than John. With fitting humility, John recognized that he was not even worthy to unloose the latchet of Christ’s shoes. Recall again that in the Old Testament, the unwilling redeemer was to have his shoe loosed. Here was One whose shoe was never loosed. He was the willing redeemer.
John implied as well that He would be greater in His work. “I baptize you with water; … He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost.” His work would not only redeem men, as God did with Israel, but would change them and make them into Spirit-born men. Immersed in the Spirit of God, a new creation, the Body of Christ would be formed and men would also be indwelt by that self-same Spirit.
Christ was not only able to accomplish redemption, not only was willing to pay the price, but able to effect a redemption far greater and more sweeping in its results.
1. Look at the different ways in which John expresses his unworthiness in each of the four Gospel accounts. There are subtle but distinctive differences in what he says about unloosing the shoes of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Look at John’s replies in John 1 to the interrogation by the leaders. Notice how each reply about himself gets shorter and shorter; then each of his answers about Christ gets longer and longer. This was a harbinger of what he would say in John 3:30: “He must increase; I must decrease.”