Summary: A look at John the Baptist's words that Christ must increase, while he decreases. What does that mean for the Christ follower.
February 5, 2012
When you think about words, the word “DOWN” doesn’t have many positive meanings. It’s a word reserved for cowards, losers and bear markets. It’s a word that is to be avoided or ignored. When you attach it to other words it brings them down, such as — down and out, breakdown, down hearted, downfall, downsize, downturn, facedown, downer and rundown, and the only positive was touchdown, and that’s if it’s your team. What’s worse for the word down is its opposite, UP.
The word UP has many positive connotations. It’s reserved for winners, heroes and bull markets. Add the word “up” to other words and look what happens — upscale, up and coming, upwardly mobile, upper class, and upstanding.
When we think about our present world, we’ve been deluged with the philosophy that our sight should be to move up in the world. It plays into our egos. Up is a word that signifies power. It’s assumed that the direction of greatness is always up. UP, UP, UP! People rise against the odds, they ascend to fame and power.
So, the words of John the Baptist startle us. John told his disciples “Jesus must increase and I must decrease.” Talk about an oxymoron — let’s “DESCEND into GREATNESS.” It seems absurd, yet that’s exactly what John was saying.
As we look at the yearning of our souls, what will it take to open the eyes of our heart and soul; and scream out to God to fill us, fill us until we can’t take it anymore.
But is that just too scary for us? So, we don’t ask God to fill us the way we really would like, so we continue to live a life of less than, instead of more than life. You know what I mean?! It’s almost like living a life which is an oxymoron. We want more, but we’re afraid to go after it. Then we complain and lament about our lives.
When we stop and look at Jesus, we believe and are certain we should have all of Him. We should invite Jesus into our lives and submit ourselves to Him. We believe that, and we believe that’s what God intended for us.
Yet, we become so caught up in the world and all that it offers, and pretty soon we forget about “Jesus alone” and we become consumed with the desires of the world and before we know it, everything becomes blended. We aren’t sure what’s true and what’s false. Everything’s become clouded and in a strange way, we accept it. But that comfort lasts for only a short while and we end up with a longing, and this time it’s even deeper than before.
Now we have a choice. . . do we go forward and embrace Jesus, or do we settle for what we already have, simply because we know that this is far safer than grabbing hold of Jesus.
Let me ask you, are you with me? Do you know what I mean about that choice? Because the deepest desires in our heart are predicated on what choices we make.
Let’s look at John the Baptist and see what we can learn from him.
This passage occurs immediately after Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. During that conversation, Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again and of course Jesus said the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. After that conversation Jesus and His disciples traveled about 50 miles to an area called Salim. It was located along the Jordan River and this is the only recording we have of Jesus baptizing people. John the Baptist was at the same place, baptizing people on the other side of the Jordan River. An argument developed between John’s disciples and another Jewish man. We aren’t certain what it was about, but the end result was that John’s disciples came back to John and questioned what Jesus was doing.
Let’s look at this scripture and a remarkable statement from John . . .
26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’
29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
30 He must become greater; I must become less.
They told John, “that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan -- the one you testified about -- well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” These men were loyal followers of John the Baptist. Now this new guy comes into town and they didn’t like it. It was competition. If you owned a store and it was the only one of its kind in town, and suddenly someone else opened a competing store, you may not be very excited about it.