Summary: How do we define greatness? We often look to the world for this defintion. We look for popularity, power and to other people. We must look at the right source....JESUS!
“Finding True Greatness”
There are certain words we use that have a variety of meanings depending on how they are used. For example the word “fast” carries at least 15 different meanings. It can mean ...
* the speed of a runner ...fast
* to do without food. ... to fast
* permanently dyed .... fast
* fast asleep .. cannot be easily awakened
And the list goes on.
When you think about certain words the word doesn’t carry a very positive meaning. We say the market is down, we say I feel down or I am downhearted. But take the word UP. We use the word UP to describe the market-we say the market is UP .. that’s good. If an individual is up and coming or an upstanding young man-all of that sounds positive.
In today’s world we constantly hear the philosophy being taught that says all of us must focus on moving up, being more than we are now, climbing the ladder of success. Moving higher up. Keeping that in mind the words of John in this passage can be very confusing. John tells his disciples very simply, Jesus must increase and help must decrease. If you want to be truly great then you must follow these principles ....
* if you really want to be something then you must become nothing.
* If you want to go up in life then you must learn to come down.
* If you want more of God then there must be less of you.
Clearly the model for this lifestyle is found in the life of Jesus. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus came “down” into the world and not only did He come down, he came down from the very top.
* He was God, yet the Bible says he wept
* He owned everything yet while here He had no home
* He was the King of Kings but He became a servant
* He was the giver of life but he was crucified on a cross
So why would He do this? Well the reasons are actually simple. (1) He did it to accomplish God’s purpose. He did it to pay the price of our sin debt. (2) He did it to demonstrate God’s love for us.
We come to this passage immediately following the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. You remember Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again. Notice here the IMMATURITY of John’s disciples. Following that conversation Jesus and His disciples traveled about 50 miles to an area called Salim. It was located along the Jordan river. John the Baptist was at the same place and was baptizing people on the other side of the Jordan river. It was at that point that some of the followers of John said to him, John, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, He is baptizing and EVERYONE is going to Him.
Sounds almost like a child to me. You know Mama, Daddy, i want a pair of 100 dollar shoes ... everyone’s buying them. I want to go to the party this weekend at the beach ...Everybody is going and everybody’s parents are letting them stay out past midnight. That’s immature. But notice there is also INTEGRITY. They were very loyal followers of John the Baptist. Now this new fellow comes into town and they didn’t like it one bit. To them it was competition. If you’ve got the only place in town where someone can get a certain product then you don’t get very excited when competition comes to town.
Notice how John’s disciples referred to Jesus. They didn’t call Him by name. John knew who Jesus was, the disciples didn’t ... not yet. So they were jealous and they remarked “everyone” is going to Jesus. Now John explains to His followers that he is not the Christ ... he explains that he was actually sent to be the forerunner of Christ. The one who would let others know that Jesus was coming.
Now look at the ILLUSTRATION he gives us. Bride and groom. In that day when the time of the wedding arrived it was the responsibility of the best man/best friend of the groom to take care of a number of the details for the wedding. The best man would be the connection between the groom and the bride. Basically the best man arranged the wedding, delivered the invitations and was the MC for the event. He also had one final duty, when it was time it was his responsibility to guard the bridal room. Often men tried to make their way into the bridal room to hopefully take the bride away. But the best man knew what his voice sounded like and he would know which one was the right one and he would only allow the groom to enter. Then his job was over. He never felt used or slighted. You see his job was to bring the bride and groom together. That was it. And once that job was complete, his job was to simply fade into the background.