Summary: While John was at the peak of his career, Jesus appeared on the scene and the crowds, who had once streamed out of the villages to follow John, began to follow Jesus instead. As John watched them go, his only response was, “He must become greater, I must
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HE MUST BECOME GREATER, I MUST BECOME LESS
While John was at the peak of his career, Jesus appeared on the scene and the crowds, who had once streamed out of the villages to follow John, began to follow Jesus instead. As John watched them go, his only response was, “He must become greater, I must become less.”
John’s response to Christ is the same response which all of us must offer Him. John was able to do this because:
I. He Mastered Himself—“I must become less.”
A. The desire for recognition is a universal human drive.
1. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction.
2. This desire often drives much that we do in life.
B. Unchecked or improperly channeled this instinct can get us into a lot of trouble.
1. Even good deeds can be undone by an overeager desire for credit and self-acclaim.
2. At its worst it can even become ruthless. History is strewn with the wreckage of the havoc visited upon us by people who have reached for greatness with no respect for God or fellow humans.
C. Even the church suffers from unchecked or improperly channeled egos.
1. Ego-centric preachers, ruling elders, resident critics—all trying to impose their will upon the kingdom of God.
2. The unbridled ego may be the single greatest threat to the health of the church.
D. Properly channeled, however, this powerful human instinct can be the source of great achievement.
1. In response to the egotistical request of James and John to sit at His right hand (Mark 10:35-45), Jesus urged them to seek true greatness through service
2. Christian greatness is a greatness that undergirds rather than overpowers, that seeks to serve rather than to be served.
3. This is the greatness John the Baptizer rose to in this, his most difficult moment.
II. He Was Mastered By Jesus Christ—“He must become greater.”
A. When John looked at Jesus, he saw something in Him which he himself did not possess, something with which he could not compare.
1. He noticed it in his preaching.
2. He witnessed it in his miracles.
3. But it went even deeper. He saw it in his person.
B. True greatness belongs only to Jesus.
1. History validates his greatness. He alone is without peer.
2. Jesus was more than the greatest man. He is the Son of God. According to the scriptures it is He who: made the world, sustains the world, saves the world, presides over the world. He is in every way the incomparable Christ.
C. And John may have been the first person to truly sense it.
1. When he sees Him coming to the Jordan, there is no question in his voice: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
2. With these words John acknowledges Jesus as more than the master teacher, more than the great physician, more than a great humanitarian. He is uniquely the Savior of the world.
For John, to meet Jesus was to be mastered by Him. So must it be for all who will answer His call to salvation and service.
Carl Sandburg once said, “We all want to play Hamlet.”
Alfred Adler, one of the fathers of modern psychiatry, considers the desire for recognition one of the strongest of all human instincts.