Wednesday, October 2, 2019
He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30
The moon shines brightly at night because it reflects the distant light of the sun, but when the sun rises in the morning, the moon’s light fades.
In John chapter 3, we see John the Baptizer become a fading moon under the rising light of Jesus’ public ministry.
Does this cause John to feel overshadowed, forgotten, and discarded? Does it make him bitter? Not at all. But the same can’t be said of His disciples. They come to him with what they believe is a grievous message, effectively saying, “John . . . did you know that Jesus is taking all your followers?”
This is like a raptured preacher who is upset because he didn’t get to finish his sermon! This is like a corporate headhunter who is upset that his clients are landing jobs, or a baker who is upset that her bread keeps getting eaten, or a builder who is upset that people keep buying his homes! That would be outrageous, because that is the very aim of their occupation.
Here are John’s disciples, whose primary job is to introduce people to the Messiah, and they are upset because people are beginning to follow the Messiah! Pride does ridiculous things.
In the Middle Eastern culture of John’s day, it was traditional for the best friend of a bridegroom to make all the arrangements for the wedding. He was the master of ceremonies, and for a time everyone listened to his direction and obeyed his orders.
As his final and most important ritual, he stood by the door of the bridal chamber to insure that no one but the groom entered. As soon as the groom approached, this man’s duties were complete.
John the Baptizer says to his followers in verse 27: “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” John understood full well that the effectiveness and longevity of anyone’s life and ministry is determined by God.
This reminds me of something C.S. Lewis writes in his book, The Problem of Pain:
They (Adam and Eve) wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, “This is our business, not yours” But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.
Digest that last line for a moment. Do those words relate to you in some way today?
If someone were to spend a week in your home, or watch you at your job, or have access to your bank account and portfolio, would they see a moon trying to be the sun? Would they see an adjective trying to act as the subject?
John’s disciples were upset that Jesus was taking John’s followers, but what is it in your life you don’t want Jesus to take? Clients? A business partner? Investors? Friends? Finances? What corner of your life have you designated for your own glory, reputation, and success?
“He must increase, but I must decrease,” says John the Baptizer in the face of a dimming ministry, and you and I will never experience life to the fullest until that is our attitude as well.