John 3:22-36 (NASB)
“He must increase, but I must decrease”. These words are not common to us. Certainly not in a world that regularly exalts personal status. Sure, we love the idea of rooting for others, that is until they start to invade our territory. We want others to succeed so long as they don’t supersede. Rarely one willingly takes the backseat to another that comes after them.
But this is not so with John the Baptist. He was one who was specifically called to prepare the way for the coming Messiah (Isaiah 40:3; Mk. 1:2-5). He came preaching a message of repentance–a turning of heart back to the one true God. Accompanying this as a sign of one’s repentance was baptism (hence the name John the Baptist). So whenever you see John in the gospels you generally find him both preaching and baptizing. In John 3:22-36 we see John the Baptist doing just that.
One of John’s disciples hears word that Jesus has also been baptizing and comes to John with a concern. He says, “the one who you testify about is also baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” Or in today’s words, “John this Jesus guy is stealing all our clients. He is taking all our followers. We are being overshadowed by him.”
John’s response is beautiful. He depicts a wedding saying, “The groom is who the bride is for. But it is the groom’s friend who rejoices for the groom to receive his bride.” John had never forgotten that in God’s story, Jesus was the focus. While John had a very important part to play in this story, his role was to proclaim and rejoice in Jesus. John had not mistaken his place before God’s anointed Son, the Messiah. Because of this, we see John exclaim with great joy, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
Could we, like John the Baptist, say “Jesus must increase and I must decrease”? Or are we the ones who would say “Jesus, you can increase, as long as it doesn’t come at an inconvenience to me, as long as I don’t lose my comforts and securities. You can increase as long as I don’t have to sacrifice.” I pray that we would have such a view of Jesus–of His greatness and majesty–that we would harold “Jesus, no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice or loss, no matter the inconvenience, You must increase.”
In what ways do you hold onto the spotlight?
Why is it so difficult for us to let Jesus “increase”? To let others “increase”?
How can you act in healthy humility?
By Chris Willett | Springville, UT