” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. ” – John 3:29-30 (NASB)
Many of us naturally want attention for ourselves whether we seek attention based on how we dress, how loud or quiet we are, how extravagant we may celebrate our accomplishments or else.
We like to have eyes locked on us. You may not personally want an entire room with gazes staring at you but it may be that you seek attention from a spouse, from a man or woman you are attracted to, from a parent or even from a boss in the workplace. In little or big ways, we secretly like and crave attention. When we come to Jesus, in the same way, we may secretly desire the glory that belongs to Him for ourselves.
In John chapter three verses 22-36, a discussion emerged between a Jew and the disciples of John the Baptist regarding purification. The man could not understand why John would be in agreement with Jesus now baptizing people with water when all along John had been known as the baptizer. Who was Jesus to suddenly take the place of John? And why would John allow the people to now follow Jesus rather than him? The Jew was absolutely perplexed and expected John to be full of anger or indignation. Yet, this was not so.
John’s response left his audience in complete amazement and confusion at the same time. His response was not at all what the Jew and John’s disciples had expected to hear. In fact, through his response recorded in verses 27 to 36, John the Baptist reminds us of a few key points we still need today:
- A testimony holds significant value.
- Our aim is to point others to Jesus not to ourselves.
- We must be humble enough to recognize where our assignment or calling begins and where it ends.
- We should always be joyful when we witness others’ increase and success.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those key points.
First, John the Baptist teaches us about the significance of a testimony: a testimony is valuable. What we say about Jesus to the world is important and should always be aligned with scripture. We are Christ’s witnesses. As such, our testimony carries weight and will either glorify God or paint the wrong portrait of Him.
John’s personal testimony was that Jesus was the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sins of the world that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life. Indeed, John was not the Christ himself but was sent ahead of the Christ to prepare the way for Him as foretold in Isaiah 40:3. What is your personal testimony?
Second, our aim should always be to point others to Jesus not to ourselves. John understood the spotlight should always be placed on Christ. Seeing Him increase was not a threat for John but was exactly what must come to pass. John recognized that “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” and he encouraged others to follow the Lord. At the end of the day, the bridegroom was more important than the friend of bridegroom and it was crucial that those who heard John’s testimony believed in the Son who holds eternal life in His hands. Are you more interested in people following you or people following Christ?
Third, John the Baptist teaches us of the importance of humility and recognizing the boundaries of our assignments. John’s calling and purpose in life was to prepare the way of the Lord, to call God’s people to repentance and show them the Light of the world that would come. John understood that his entire life mission was to proclaim God’s Word and turn the hearts of His people back to Christ (see Luke 1:16). John was to step in the spotlight as a forerunner before Jesus but as soon as Jesus stepped in, John was to gladly give the spotlight and teach his followers to now follow Jesus. The goal was always to turn their eyes and hearts to Jesus not himself. Even after Jesus stepped into the scene, John knew that his calling was to proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God…”
We see a perfect demonstration of humility as John utters the famous words: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (verse 30). John always knew that there would be an end to his rise of influence because ultimately Jesus needed to increase. In the same way, we may become great influencers, great preachers and teachers but we must always be humble enough to step out of the way so Jesus may increase recognizing that our purpose and calling is to glorify Him. We exist to lift Him up.
Finally, our fourth key point reveals that we should always experience great joy when Jesus is exalted. Like the friend of the bridegroom, we ought to be excited and joyful when others come to know, worship and believe in the name of Jesus whether through us or through someone else. In like manner, when friends or brothers and sisters experience success and increase in ministry, we are to celebrate their success as it is ultimately God’s success. At the end of the day, God is exalted, glorified and it is He who receives the glory. So let us rejoice as we witness others’ success in saving souls for the kingdom.
Friend, our goal (yours and mine) should always be to point others to Jesus not to us. We can celebrate accomplishments and we can celebrate hard work but at no point whatsoever should we seek the ultimate glory that belongs to Him. Leading others to Jesus is truly the joy and purpose of our lives.
Dear Lord, I’m sorry for any time when I have tried to take your glory for myself. Teach me to walk in complete humility and yet be bold to proclaim your name and the message of the Gospel. Help me to celebrate and rejoice with those who rejoice in your name. May I never cease to point others to you for as long as I live.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Matthew 28: 19-20
Luke 2:52; 1:15-17