After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John 3:22-30 ESV
Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest man (Matthew 11:11). And today, this greatest man was on the spotlight again. Well, he was on the spotlight again because he was being questioned about his spotlight, the attention of the people whom he ministered to, was drawing away from him to Jesus, whom he witnessed before, and who was also baptizing people, and attracting a bigger crowd. When the world expected its superstar to be angry and envious over someone who had taken away his popularity, this great man responded with calmness, and joy. He called it a joy that is fulfilled. It’s a joy completed by someone who lived a purpose driven life, and seeing his purpose being fulfilled.
“I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. ” (v29). John was clear on his calling and mission. His mission was to prepare the way for Christ, to call God’s people to repentance and show them the Light of the world that would come. He was chosen by God to be the messenger and be the one to prepare the way for Christ in that special time. God has also given all of us a purpose and mission. Has that mission been our driver of life?
John also understood his position and boundary. He was the best man of the wedding and not the bridegroom. He was not to be the focus of the attention, but to supervise the bringing of two people together. And when that is done, his joy is fulfilled. Do we understand our roles and boundaries? Are we doing a disciple’s job? Or are we stressing over something only God can do. For example, we are called to bring people to Christ and share His gospel. We pray for them and tell them about Christ, but the decision making of accepting salvation or not is beyond our scope of work and control. That is something between them and God. We should continue to pray and do what we are called to do, but at the end, it’s God who will bring the final harvest. If we understand our role and accept the limits, the next time when we get rejected by someone when we share the gospel, we wouldn’t have to be discouraged and allow our joy to be stolen. Let’s remember our roles, accept our limits, and honor His sovereignty.
John also served with the right attitude. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (v30). His ministry was to point people to Jesus, not to himself. He served with humility and with the goal to glorify God. This is also a great reminder for us – serving with humility. May our services magnify and glorify God, and not ourselves. We are to point people to Jesus, not to ourselves.
Lastly and very importantly, John knew who Jesus is. He knew Jesus was the one he was preparing the way for. He knew Jeus is the one from God, the Lamb of God, and the one whom he was also waiting for. Do we know who we are serving and waiting for? Let us not lose sight and hope. Jesus is the one that we are serving and waiting for. He is our bridegroom, the One to come. When His purpose on us is fulfilled, our joy will also be complete.
Dear God, may your Holy Spirit help me to see clearly the purpose and mission You have for me, and set me up with the right attitude and motive to live out the purpose for You. May my life bring glory to You, my bridegroom, the One to come.