Our Gospel this weekend places before us once again the figure of John the Baptist. Jesus was asked once who had been the greatest person born – and his answer was that no greater man had been born of a woman than John the Baptist. Jesus rated John highly – therefore so should we. John was a baptizer. Baptism was not an invention of John, nor was it unique to the Israelites. From ancient times, baptism was a well-known symbol, an outward sign, of a new spiritual birth, of entering into a new form of life.
For those whom John baptized, it marked their confession that they were sinners. When we admit we are sinners, we are laying aside our human pride and confessing the truth of what we really are. But we are not making that confession blindly. We are making it in the light of the revealed knowledge that God loves us immeasurably, and that his son Jesus has already paid the price of our sinfulness.
John’s ministry was a ministry of humility. Baptism is an expression of humility. The Son of God humbled himself to become one of us for our sakes. And the new life in Christ that is given to us by our Creator and Redeemer is a life of humility.
Perhaps then this is our Advent message this week, a reminder that It’s not about me. If it were about me, what would I do? How can I heal my own past, my present and future? No, that task is has been taken up by that little baby in the manger, for whom we now wait.