John the Baptist was considered by Jesus to be the greatest man “born of women.” This would be quite radical to a Jewish ear for whom patriarchs like Abraham, or the great receiver of the Torah himself, Moses, would have been the heavyweights of obedience to God. No doubt, despite our mental picture of John the Baptist as a wild eyed firebrand, this scripture points us toward a person who was also tempered by a great humility. John knew his place, he was the forerunner who prepared the way for the one who would now be eclipsing his work and ministry. Yet John also rejoiced in fulfilling his God given purpose. He was not sad when Jesus came on the scene, he was elated. But he also understood the nature of this new epoch. John knew that he must get himself out of the way of what God was doing. As he wrote, “He must become greater; I must become less.”
To work toward justice with God is not even a remote possibility without humility and boldness, just as John exemplified. It takes boldness to speak truth to power and call out hypocrisy. It takes boldness to to do new works of ministry like preaching and baptizing. Especially work that departs from the traditionalism of religious practice. But while many would see arrogance as a shadow side of the prophetic role, there is a certain humility to being a herald of the gospel, and there is humility to holding loosely the momentum of a nascent movement, and even letting Jesus take over your role as the discipler of the best and brightest God has brought your way. The reason John the baptist was so great is because he did not mind being made small. He let the plans and purposes of God have their way in his life so completely that he fully lived into his role as coming in the spirit of Elijah. He was more than ready to simply accept the testimony of Jesus; he was ready to let the Spirit work unencumbered. This is justice is to be sought in the Kingdom of God. It is a justice in tune with the Spirit of God whose ministry is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It is a justice that is only possible if one follows the example of God of loving the Son and placing everything in his hands.
Instructions for Fasting:
Fast one meal. Let your emptiness or even boredom be reasons to connect with rather than disconnect with God. During the time of the meal 3:22-36 considering John’s example with your own struggle navigating the tension of boldness and humility, truth telling and telling the truth in love. Close in a prayer asking God for help in one area of your live you need to decrees so that Christ may increase.