Thursday, October 28, 2010

Unworthy to Untie

Matthew 3:11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

11 Ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν, ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί·

This is one of those verses that is strange for a native English speaker to read in Greek.  The phrase ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν is translated "mightier than I."  But quite literally you have "mighty is me."  This is because Greek does its comparative adjectives differently than English.  Greek doesn't do "good, better, best, " or more regularly, "strong, stronger, strongest."  Again, you can trust your translators here.

While that is an interesting linguistic note, I think that John's statement is worthy of reflection.  Later on Jesus will say that no man born of woman was greater than John the Baptizer.  And yet here we have John's statement.  He did not consider himself worthy to do the most menial servant work for Jesus.  John understood his place before the Lord.

Do we?  Here in America we try to turn Jesus into a vending machine or a cosmic genie.  We want Him to give us the lives that we want.  Yet this verse makes it clear that we are always going to be subordinate to Him.  If John the Baptizer was not worthy to carry Jesus' sandals, where does that leave us?  It is true that Jesus is that "friend who stays closer than a brother," but He is also God.  We say that He is worthy of praise and honor and glory, etc.  But do we act like we believe that?

This verse helps me remember just who He is.  Let's respond accordingly, amen?

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