Today we start our new series, going through the book of Mark. Our hope is that it will be of benefit to airline workers, and will help us both in our understanding of this account of Jesus, and our application of the Scripture’s teachings to our own lives now.
We start, with Mark 1:1-8:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,Mark 1:1-8 (NASB)
just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“Behold, I am sending My messenger before You,
Who will prepare Your way;
The voice of one calling out in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!’
”John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to bend down and untie the straps of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
As well as serving passengers ourselves, as airline crew we are also accustomed to people serving us. We land at our destination, often someone takes our bags off the belt for us, we get escorted to a nice car where someone opens a door for us and loads our bags for us, drives us to a nice hotel, where someone opens a door for us and, well, you get the picture. Generally, such jobs are considered menial in the world’s eyes when compared with other more “important” ones, although as a workplace ministry, we would argue against this view.
Nevertheless, this passage also speaks of a menial task, but one much lower than anything at the airport. One commentator wrote that the untying of sandals was, “a menial task, fit for a slave. Disciples would perform all sorts of service for their rabbis (teachers), but loosing sandal thongs was expressly excluded.” 1
And yet John the Baptist said that he is not fit, not worthy, to bend down before Jesus and touch the strap of His sandals.
Imagine meeting a Captain so great at his job, with a track record of aviating that nobody else came close to… some mythical combination of Sully, Al Haynes and Eric Moody. Even then, would you say that you are unworthy to carry his bag? I don’t think so.
John’s statement, then, is a massive assertion. Who does one speak this way about? We will read later in Mark of many occasions that demonstrated Jesus’s divine authority and position.
So, as we start this series, we will have to discard many of the caricatures the world has come up with about Jesus and to remember from the outset that His authority, His position and His life are unlike anything this world has ever witnessed.
- Zondervan NIV Study Bible, 2002, Commentary on John 1:27