Toes on grating.
Thursday, 5 January 2023
“And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’ Acts 13:25
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
The previous verse referred to John’s preaching a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. Paul continues now with, “And as John was finishing his course.”
Paul uses the term dromos or “course” for the first time in Scripture. It signifies a racetrack where runners on foot competed in the Greek games of old. It will only be seen again in Acts 20:24 and 2 Timothy 4:7, both of which give us the same sense as he now uses –
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6, 7
Paul equated the ministry of John the Baptist to such a course and noted that as he was coming to the end of it, “he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He.’”
Paul again uses a new word, huponoeó. Literally, it signifies “to think under” and thus privately. As such, it means to suppose or conjecture. The people were thinking privately about who John might be. He was aware of it and asked them to consider what he would reveal. As for what Paul has said, his words of the previous verse and this one now follow the narrative of Luke 3 closely. In the previous verse, it mentioned the preaching of repentance to Israel. That was seen in Luke 3:3. It continued with instruction after that. Then, it next says –
“Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not.” Luke 3:15
The question was proffered. From there, John’s denial of being the Messiah is not explicitly spoken in the same manner that Paul speaks to those in the synagogue. Rather it is implied in John’s response to the people’s question which Paul states as, “But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.”
Rather, the word is “sandal” in the singular. John is saying that he was unworthy to undo even a single sandal on the feet of the Messiah, much less both of them. This follows Luke’s narrative –
“Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 16 John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.’” Luke 3:15-17
Untying the feet of one’s master would have been the most menial of all tasks. As today, it would be considered degrading to be told to remove the shoes of someone as he sat and relaxed. John, however, knew that even such a lowly assignment was above his right to perform. It is a surprising statement when considering Jesus’ words to the people –
“But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written:
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:26-28
John was highlighted by Jesus in this manner and yet he knew his unworthy state before the Lord. It makes the rest of the narrative of Israel’s interactions with Jesus all the more relevant and striking. Their rejection of John was like their rejection of all the prophets who came before him. Their rejection of Jesus, of whom all those prophets spoke, was intolerable and inexcusable.
Life application: In considering our position in relation to Jesus, there is a dichotomy that needs to be considered. He has given His life for us and there is a bond of closeness that arises from that where we can speak to Him now in the most intimate way. He is nearer to us than any blood relative and He should be dearer to us than our own spouse or children.
And yet, we must also consider the absolute magnificence, splendor, and holiness of the Lord as well. We stand before the perfection of God when we stand before the Lord Jesus. He is our Creator, Sustainer, and continued life. Our conduct before Him should be that of reverential fear and always conducting our lives in a circumspect manner.
Even if those who are “least in the kingdom of God” are greater than John the Baptist, we are no more worthy than he was to untie the strap of one of His sandals. Let us remember this and share our lives and intimate thoughts with Him as our nearest and truest love, and yet let us honor Him with the due respect that is owed to our God. All glory to Jesus, our All in all.
Glorious Lord Jesus, we stand in awe of You. We were created by You, we exist because You allow it to be so, and yet You came to die for us so that we could be reconciled to God through You. How great You are. How magnificent, splendid, and beautiful! Glory to You in the highest, Lord Jesus. Amen.