"There is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
The word picture of John the Baptist created by the evangelists is both charming and challenging. Clear thinking, focused, lean and a little mean, John was not afraid to say what he was thinking to anyone, even if it put his life in danger. The Baptist is a traditional hero who both knows and accepts himself. Acknowledging that he is unworthy to untie the sandal strap of the Lord, John insists he is not the Messiah. Both honest and transparent, John's reward for his goodness will be a gruesome death.
John the Baptist is also the first to recognize Jesus when he leaps in his mother's womb as the newly pregnant Mary approaches his childhood home. Excited by the arrival of his Messiah, John senses even before his birth that his visitor will change everything about his life, and in this he becomes an example for every Christian.
John is the forerunner of Jesus, the one who will prepare his way and so must we in our culture, country and time. John's insistence that "He must increase, and I must decrease," (John 3:30) will become a mantra for Christians throughout the ages.
Today, be yourself. Don't try to be God.
What most challenges you in the life of John the Baptist?