“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)
This should be the heart of every follower of Jesus Christ. We should all desire to be less noticed so that Christ can be more magnified in this world. No doubt, Christ’s glory is on display in many ways but a major way is him being displayed through his people. This is why we must say with John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John the Baptist was undoubtedly a great man who loved the Lord. But his purpose was not to make his own name famous rather he wanted to exalt the One who was actually worthy of being exalted. In John 1 he was being questioned by the priests and Levites about who he was? These Jews played a guessing game for a while before asking him, “Who are you?” They needed a response because they had to report back to those over them about who this man was baptizing people. John responded by quoting from the prophet Isaiah saying, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’.” He was communicating to these men that he was nothing but a voice preparing people for the Lord. He tells them of Christ. He tells them that he is not even worthy to untie Jesus’ sandal. John is being crystal clear that Jesus is the one of most importance.
Now in John 3 we read of a very interesting scene. John, who had been the go to guy for baptism, was baptizing some people but in another area Jesus was also baptizing people. John’s disciples and a Jew have a conversation about what is going on. His disciples finally ask, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness – look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him” (26). Basically they were concerned about the competition. They didn’t yet get it. John had made it clear earlier that Jesus was more significant. But now Jesus is baptizing and John’s disciples think that is what he was to be doing. John’s disciples wondered what he is thinking as the people were lining up to be baptized by Jesus. Now I know what you thinking right now: What in the world is wrong with these disciples? Of course they are going to Jesus, he is Jesus! There is no competition because Jesus wins every time. We want to think that way but our hearts are not always saying the same thing. I think we get mad at John’s disciples because they remind us of us so often. There is no competition because Jesus is superior yet we give our heart’s over to idols. But what we should desire is more of the humility like John displays here in this text. Remember his name is John the Baptist. He should be baptizing yet he is rejoicing that people are going to see Jesus. John answers his disciples: “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete” (27-29). John’s joy is complete because Christ is there and his bride is going to him. He is telling his disciples there is no competition at all, just joy.
John is full of joy because Christ is being exalted. As followers of Christ we should always be rejoicing as we see Christ being exalted in others lives. When God wants to use us we should be humbled like John. We should continually be telling ourselves: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It’s not about us; it’s about him and his glory.Grace upon grace,