John the Baptist’s Testimony About Jesus
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan-the one you testified about- well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him”
27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ 29The 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.
31 “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, For God give the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever reject the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
30 He must become greater; I must become less
It seems that we, as humans, have an insatiable appetite for being “right” and, maybe more important, belonging to the “right group.” So, it comes as little surprise when we hear of an argument developing among some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew. At some point, they bring the discussion to John because they want to know about that man. What’s the deal with that man, and why is everyone going to him?
John the Baptist models for us what it looks like to have a keen awareness of one’s purpose and vocation. The moving phrase he uses is “He must become greater; I must become less.” Jesus must increase, John must decrease. Jesus must increase! The Message translates the verse “This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” I want to suggest that we also take up John’s purpose and vocation, Jesus must increase! We move Jesus to the center as we slip off to the sidelines.
As we jump ahead in the life of Jesus, we find that this principle of increase and decrease goes through a tremendous upheaval when Jesus decreases in order to make us increase.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. – II Corinthians 8:9
So, as we continue in the footsteps of John the Baptist of increasing Jesus and decreasing ourselves, we do so because we find our identity in Jesus. As Paul says in Philippians 2 we are “united with Christ” and we are “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” We “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves.”
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…”
1. In the rest of the chapter John talks about Jesus being “above all” and “The Father has placed everything in his hands”. What does that mean for us today and how does it shape our day-to-day lives?
2. We mentioned our desire to be right or feel like we belong to the right group. Is this compatible with John’s phrase “He must become greater; I must become less?”
· Confession (simply telling the truth) – We confess that most of the time we prefer to increase and will do anything in our power not to decrease, we want to change, please help us have the attitude of Christ Jesus.
· Prayer – Father, we thank you for becoming poor so that we may become rich. Please continue to transform us into your image so that we may become poor for others. We want Jesus to increase! Amen!