11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Matt 3:11-12 (NIV)

Humility, the most fragrant of all flowers in God’s garden of graces, is here demonstrated by the Baptist – the one sent as forerunner to the Lord Jesus. Surely, nothing makes one more wooing, winsome and similar to the Savior than being genuinely humble. Indeed, humility makes the great, greater – it is a virtue, not a weakness and it always leaves behind it the sweet aroma of Jesus our perfect example of lowliness of heart. Did not our Lord - the King of Kings - strip off one robe of majesty and then another until He at last hung naked on a cross, pouring out His lifeblood and then placed penniless in a borrowed grave? In our verses for today, John rightly exalts the dignity and supremacy of Christ above himself. I am reminded of the Baptist’s response in John when asked by his disciples why Christ’s growing influence and movement was expanding and gaining momentum over his own:

27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:27-30 (NIV)

“And if you don’t lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you don’t know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten. Think of that, and as Jesus lowered Himself for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet. A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even the conscious awareness of our own guilt...Pride cannot live beneath the cross.” Charles H. Spurgeon

“Those whom God honors are made very humble and lowly in their own eyes; they are willing to be humbled as long as Christ may be everything.” Matthew Henry

The Baptist fleshed out Paul’s words in Philippians prior to them even being written:

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:5-11 (NIV)

“Humility chooses to receive what is provided rather than take what is demanded. Humility never pulls rank, never gloats in victory, never demands its rights. Humility accepts responsibility for wrongdoing.” Chuck Swindoll

“Pride alienates man from heaven; humility leads to heaven.” Bridget of Sweden

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Prov 11:2 (NIV)

John came preparing the remnant for the Messiah and baptizing with water those who responded. Yet, Jesus came baptizing with the Holy Spirit as with fire - fire which illuminates (gives us understanding), heats (burning hearts – passion) and consumes (makes the soul holy by ridding it of corruption). Jesus speaks regarding the Holy Spirit in John:

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” John 16:12-15 (NIV)

Lastly, John states the Lord Jesus in His Second Advent will one day winnow the wheat from the chaff – the saved from the unsaved – bringing into heaven’s “barn” those who are His and burning those remaining with unquenchable fire. The Day of the Lord is prophesized in Malachi as well:

1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty. Mal 4:1-3 (NIV)

What I Glean

  • Pride brings me disgrace – humility, wisdom.
  • John came baptizing with water – Jesus with the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus will one day separate the believers from those who willingly choose not to believe in Him.