Friday, March 8, 2019

He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease

This short verse with only seven words has stood in the back of my mind for years.  It is found in John 3:30.   This verse was John the Baptist's approach to a life that was to be lived for God's glory.  Beginning at John's birth, he always stood in the shadows of Jesus Christ.  John was a very common man who happened to grow up in a God-fearing family.   What we know about John’s formative years is that he lived in obscurity in the desert.  His diet was simple, honey and wild locust.  His wardrobe of camel hair would not win him any fashion contests.  It would be through John's public ministry that ended 400 years of prophetic silence.  
John’s ministry and his message marked the culmination of the law and the prophets, and at the same time he heralded the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  John the Baptist was truly a transitional figure; he formed the link between the Old and New Testaments.   You could say that he had one foot placed in each Testament.
We certainly know that John was not a crowd pleaser and we also know that his message was simple.  He routinely preached, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  This message offended the religious leaders who already had what they thought they spiritually needed.   John willingly confronted the hypocrisy of the religious establishment and he went against their theological grain.  In fact, he did not hesitate to expose the immorality of Herod, which led him to die a martyr’s death rather than compromise his convictions.  
Jesus Christ affirmed & praised the dedicated life of John the Baptist.  He said that, “he was the greatest born among women because he had the privilege of pointing to the Lamb of God.” One thing to admire about John the Baptist was that he fully accepted his subordinate role to Jesus Christ.  He was never here to be recognized or to compete with Jesus Christ.  John’s humble view was,  I’m not even worthy enough to untie the sandals on Jesus' feet.
The religious Jews were trying to inflame John the Baptist to jealousy, anger, and discontentment due to the fact that many of John’s disciples had a stronger loyalty to Jesus than to John. They tried to create the feeling in John that he deserved more than what he was getting.  John responded this way—the church, God’s people, they are the Bride of Christ.  They belong to HIM!  I’m just the best man—the groom’s friend who was blessed just to play some part.
According to John, he was fine with this arrangement because he had only one purpose, which was point people to Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.  In fact, John says, I’ve got so much joy in my heart over what is happening that my joy level is complete~~I can’t put any more joy inside of it (John 3:29).  Then John speaks those infamous 7 words, “HE MUST increase, but I must decrease.”
The posture of John the Baptist~~it was humble and it was right.  It was similar to that of Jesus Christ—in Philippians 2 when Christ humbled Himself to the point of the cross.  As believers in Christ’s church—we all have one primary goal and purpose~~and that is to glorify God by pointing people to the Lamb of God.  It means we become more obscure and our Jesus becomes more visible.  It means that our passion to point others to Jesus Christ may remove us out of the spotlight and into a deeper servant role that includes sacrifice. 
"He must increase, but I must decrease."  John 3:30