“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” — Matthew 3:11
John the Baptist more than likely had the first mega-church. Even though he preached in the wilderness, the Bible says in Mark 1:5 that “all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem.” You would think with this kind of success in ministry that John would have done whatever he had to do to maintain it. I guess if the technology had existed back then, we would read in the Bible about his “satellite campuses.”
As a beginning minister, John is really teaching me a lesson this morning. I am all too aware of what the world has called success in ministry. I have seen wonderful small churches close their doors because the leaders focused on mega status. Had these churches been content with leading 50 to 150 people, they would have flourished. But, in America, the Kool-Aid has made us believe that bigger is better. John the Baptist absolutely kills his future numbers right here in this verse by saying, “If you think I’m something . . . wait until you see Him!”
I have now been a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for two years. I’m still coming to grips with the fact that God has chosen me to do this. I have found it difficult enough to simply learn the Bible and keep myself from being polluted by the world, so it is almost unfathomable that I would be placed in a position to teach others how to do the same. But, this morning John’s words comfort me greatly in what I’m called to do.
“I baptize you with water for repentance.” John recognized his limitations. He could preach. He could lead a person to see their need for God and show them how to repent of their sins. He could even baptize people afterwards if they chose to do so. I can do all of these things as well. I may not do them nearly as well . . . but I can do them.
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John could NOT do this . . . neither can I. Only Jesus can baptize with the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus can place a fire inside of you that burns out sin and makes you want to do right. Only He can truly make you clean on the inside. There is no feeling like it in the world.
I’m glad that people like to read my WMD’s. I’m glad that a few people like to hear me preach on Sundays. I pray that the Lord uses me to bring many to repentance. I also pray that as soon as possible these same people really get a hold of Him whose sandals I am not worthy to carry . . . then they won’t need me, or any other preacher, for they have obtained the greatest prize this world offers.
I say all of this because I have worshiped preachers. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I’m aware of it now. I would travel long distances to see my favorites and would be so disappointed if they didn’t preach. God was there! So how could I have possibly been disappointed? I was disappointed because my focus had been on the preacher . . . not the One he was preaching about.
Fix your eyes on Jesus. If you spend more time listening to your preacher talk about Him than you do searching, seeking, and hearing from Him yourself, you really need to change your focus.
There is and never will be anyone like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!