Summary: Becoming a servant, just like Jesus
Scripture: John 1: 26-27
Sermon - Learning to Play Second Fiddle
One day there was a young boy practicing his fiddle. He dismally scraped back and forth across the instrument, while his dog set up a plaintive howling and wailing.
Finally his sister stuck her head in his room and said, “Can’t you play something the dog doesn’t know?”
This humorous story reminds me of many a beginning violin student I’ve had. Until they learn how to push down with the bow and draw a steady tone from the instrument, it can be mighty gruesome. Today, I would like to talk about learning to play the fiddle…specifically, learning to play…second fiddle.
This little phrase, playing second fiddle, has some definite negative connotations. Most people don’t like playing second fiddle. Most vice-presidents dream of becoming president, the back-up quarterback awaits his chance to be number one and most theatrical understudies want to be the star.
The phrase, “second fiddle” comes from the practice of having the best player of each instrument sit in the first chair position, while the second best player sits in the second chair position and plays the second fiddle part. A lot of people have a real hard time playing second fiddle to someone else’s first fiddle.
What’s even more difficult is playing second fiddle, when once you were in the first chair position…having to play the second part, when once you were considered the best performer. How degrading…how embarrassing that can be…can you put yourself in that situation…can you understand what feelings you might have?
Well, in the bible, we learn of those who have played second fiddle. John, the Baptist knew about this, for at one time he was the best…the best preacher in the land. Multitudes came into the desert to hear him preach. He was known throughout the country…he was famous! He had a large following.
Then came Jesus. I wonder how John felt about stepping aside and pointing his disciples to Jesus? How was he able to do this unselfish act and humble himself?
The Bible says in John 1: 35-39,
35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
37When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"
They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
39"Come," he replied, "and you will see."
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
Put yourself in John, the Baptist’s shoes…watching two of your closest disciples walk off to follow another…watching the multitudes leave to seek out someone else. I’m sure you can understand the possible temptations that John faced. He could have ignored Jesus and selfishly sought the admiration of the crowds and his followers. But he didn’t.
Again, how did John, the Baptist step aside and begin playing “Second Fiddle” to Jesus?
For anyone to be able to play second fiddle, they must be self-assured. Socrates suggested that the key to wisdom is to “know thyself”.
How many people really know themselves? How long does it take to really know who you are and where you fit in this world? For some, it takes a lifetime…we all start out innocently enough, but as we grow and are tempted by all the worldly possibilities for our lives, and we begin to experiment and learn, we find that we don’t fit sometimes. We can’t seem to find our niche in this world. For some, it seems so easy. Right out of high school they know what they want to do with their lives…they know the direction they want to go. And yet, for others the search goes on and on.
Knowing yourself…there seems to me to be a very careful balance here…a balance between a healthy self-esteem and an unhealthy self-will.
Self-esteem is a Respect for and a confident acceptance of oneself as a person created by and useful to God. Self-esteem must be based on an understanding that people are created by God to be highly exalted and miserably fallen in their sin. A healthy self-esteem is knowing that each of us are of inestimable value to God and greatly loved by Him.
Becoming self-elated or self-willed turns you away from your God. A self-willed person begins to lead his own life arbitrary to the purpose of God. Such a person becomes arrogant and selfish…and lost.
Paul taught in 2nd Corinthians that Christians should have a balanced self-esteem that is able to minister to the needs of others.
John, the Baptist knew who he was…He knew that he wasn’t the Christ of the “Old Testament Scriptures”. Even with his great oratorical gifts, his large following, his amazing sense of the righteous, he simply says, “I am a voice calling in the wilderness…”…not a man, not a preacher, not even a prophet…just a voice…an instrument of God. John knew who he was and he was confident in his role as the voice of God. But, when Jesus came into his life, he knew he had found his purpose for living – he was a voice preparing the way for the Lamb of God. He knew why he was alive and he knew who he was.