TITLE: Remember Who You Are
DATE: February 11, 2019
TEXT: Luke 1: 14-15 - “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”
The question was, “Who is the greatest?” It was a question Jesus answered when He said, “John the Baptist.” Before John was born, a prophesying angel had said: “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” (Lk 1: 14-15)
To be ‘great in God’s eyes’ is no small recommendation.
But the angel’s promise was certified by Jesus, when, in Matthew, the Savior said: “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John…” (11:11a) Years ago when I first read Jesus’ words, I wondered, “Why is John the greatest? After all, he wasn’t the father of nations like Abraham; he didn’t separate the Red Sea like Moses; escape the lion’s den as had Daniel; call down fire on a sacrifice like Elijah; or avoid being roasted like Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego.
What did John do to earn the title, ‘greatest?’ He didn’t write Psalms like King David; he didn’t build a temple like Solomon. What did he do that was so right? I mean if I want to be great in God’s eyes, what should I copy? It’s a hard question. Hard, because, when the Bible tells of John, it gets pretty stingy with details and sparing with verses.
John can’t be called “the greatest” because of his eccentric looks, eating habits or clothing. Go to Hollywood Boulevard and you will see all kinds of people who beat John in those areas. His message can’t be it. After all, it was always the same: ‘Don’t forget you are sinners. If you are to be saved it will only be by the grace of God and through the sacrifice of the Savior.’, John wasn’t the greatest because he always said things which people found appealing.
“So, Pastor”, I can almost hear you asking, “I’ve stayed with you this long, what’s the answer? Why was John the greatest?”
Now before I give you my reply, I have to tell you that there are many scholars, wiser men than myself, who will disagree with me. Still, I’ve spent some time thinking about the matter, and I’m not ashamed to share my conclusion: I think John is called ‘the greatest’ because he never forgot who he was, and just as importantly he always remembered who Jesus was.
Would you like that one more time? John never forgot who he was; and he always remembered who Jesus was.
Don’t think that’s a big deal? Then remember Adam and Eve forgot. In their desire for greatness they tried to usurp God’s authority and ate of the forbidden tree. Abraham thought he could do a better job at providing an heir for himself than God could. Famous men like Moses, Samson, David, Solomon and others, a who’s-who of famous names from Scripture, forgot who they were.
But John never did. He never forgot that his job was to prepare the way for the Savior.
And our job? We dare never forget our job… you remember how Luther said it: “for all of which it is my duty to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him.”
Oh, yeah, this is most certainly true.
THE PRAYER: Lord I may be given many jobs to do and roles to play during my life. Grant that I may always remember it is my job to be thankful to You and my Savior Who have brought about forgiveness and my soul’s salvation. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html