Monday, March 14, 2011

John the Baptist: He Must Increase, I Must Decrease

The Baptist gave a three-part response to his disciples’ concern about the Lord Jesus being his rival:
1) All our work comes from God.
“No one can receive anything unless it is given from heaven." (John 3:27)
We like to take credit for what we’ve accomplished, but who gave you your intelligence? Or who gave you your health and strength, your ability to work, and the good fortune that enabled your hard work to pay off? All the credit goes to God.

John the Baptist understood this principle. He knew his role had been given to him by God, it was work that would give him satisfaction and fulfillment

2) The Baptist reminded them that he had always known his role. He was not the Messiah, but the one sent ahead.
"You yourselves can testify that I said that I’m not the Christ but that I’m the one sent before him." (John 3:28)

3) He’s like the best man, and all the people are the bride.
"The groom is the one who is getting married. The friend of the groom stands close by and, when he hears him, is overjoyed at the groom’s voice. Therefore, my joy is now complete." (Jouhn 3:29
Jesus is the groom. It would be crazy for the best man to feel like he was in competition with the groom to get the bride, it would be a total betrayal of his relationship with both the groom and His bride. Instead the best man is joyful for the groom, his best friend

The only way for you and I to have a successful mission is to have the same attitude.

These are the last recorded words of John before his arrest, when he told his disciples that he would have to decrease so Jesus’ ministry could grow. John’s mission was for Jesus to increase and for John to basically work himself out of a ministry because everyone would go to Jesus.

John wanted his followers to understand just how significant Jesus was. For one thing, Jesus came from heaven. He wasn’t simply called from heaven, or empowered by heaven, like John the Baptist was. Jesus actually came from heaven. Since He came from heaven, The Lord Jesus represents God, and to reject His witness is to reject God.

Jesus shares what He has seen and heard in heaven, that’s His testimony. Those who receive Jesus’ witness know that it’s true. You have to receive it, the Baptist was saying, you can’t just hear it.

The Baptist could not have been more clear,
"The one whom God sent speaks God’s words because God gives the Spirit generously." (John 3:34)
God sent the Lord Jesus. God gave Jesus the word, God gave Jesus His Spirit, in fact God gave Jesus everything.

The gospel writer, John, echoed Jesus' words to Nicodemus,
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life."
and
"The Father loves the Son and gives everything into his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.”
(John 3:16 and 3:35-36)
God loves the world and the Father loves the Son. Whoever receives Jesus’ witness also shares in the love the Father has for the Son, and in this “all things” that has been given to Jesus.

The last verse is actually the only place in the whole gospel that John used the actual word “wrath,” but he again echoed Jesus' words to Nicodemus,
"Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son."
and
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever doesn’t believe in the Son won’t see life, but the angry judgment [wrath] of God remains on them."
(John 3:18 and John 3:36)
obeying the Son means believing in Him and receiving Him.
Joy comes from obedience to God’s call, not getting the glory for yourself
This was a perfect setup for conflict, but it didn’t happen because there was no competition between John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus. The Baptist was content with who he was and what his job was. He didn’t have ambition to be or do more than God had given him, and he wasn’t worried about the numbers. He knew that his part was to obey God, and the results were in God’s hands.

I used to belong to a very small church, maybe fifty people on a bumper Sunday. Our building was made out of stucco, and we never did have much money. But we were right next door to a big stone church, beautiful, wealthy and full of people.

Sometimes they would accidentally come into our building, thinking we were like the kitchen or something. But we never felt bad. God had a purpose for us in our smallness. People often joined us for a while who had had bad experiences in a big church, and our church was just like family. We could never have offered them healing and renewal like we did if we had been a big church.

When does your own sense of importance overshadow your service to God? The source of contentment comes from knowing all of us have the same basic job of pointing others to Jesus. How that looks from person to person may be different but the calling is the same. There should be no comparison and no competition.

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2 comments:

  1. Very well written. You hit a major problem right on the "proverbial" head.

    ReplyDelete

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