And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
Observe here —
1. How the extraordinariness of the Baptist's person, the earnestness of his preaching, the acceptableness of his doctrine, and the exemplariness of his conversation, drew all persons to an admiration of him; insomuch that they began to think within themselves, whether he were not the Messiah Himself. He plainly tells them he was not, but only His servant, His harbinger, and forerunner.
2. The high opinion which John had of Christ. "He is mightier than I"; i.e., a person of greater authority, dignity, and excellency, than myself.
3. The humble and low estimation that the Baptist had of himself. "The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose": a proverbial speech, implying that he was unworthy to do the lowest offices, and meanest services for Christ. How well does humility of mind, a humble estimate and low opinion of themselves, become the messengers and ministers of Christ.
4. John does not only declare the dignity of Christ's person, but the excellency of His office. "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." As if he had said, I only wash the body with water, but Christ cleanses the soul by the operation of His Holy Spirit, which is as fire in its effects, purifying the hearts of His people from sin, and consuming their lusts and corruptions; yet at the same time having fiery indignation, and flaming judgments, to destroy and burn up impenitent sinners like dry stubble. It is observable in Scripture, that Christ is represented by one and the same metaphor of fire, in a way of comfort to His children, and in a way of terror to His enemies; He is fire unto both. He sits in the hearts of His people as a refiner's fire; He is amongst His enemies as a consuming fire: a fire for His Church to take comfort in, a fire for His enemies to perish by.
5. The Baptist compares Christ to a husbandman, and the Jewish Church to a barn-floor; the office of a husbandman is to thresh, fan, and winnow His corn, separating it from the chaff, preserving the one and consuming the other.
(1) The Church is Christ's floor.
(2) This floor Christ will purge, and that thoroughly.
(3) The Word of Christ is the fan in His hand, by and with which He will thoroughly purge His floor.The Church is compared to a floor, because of the mixture of good and bad in it, saints and sinners, hypocrites and sincere Christians, just as in a threshing-floor there is straw as well as grain, chaff as well as corn, tares as well as wheat, cockle and darnel as well as good seed. But Christ will purge His Church; purge it of its corruptions, without destroying its essence or existence, by the fan of His Holy Word, accompanied by the wing of discipline.
(W. Burkitt, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;