IT IS NOT ABOUT ME BUT CHRIST
“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroomʼs voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled He must increase, but I must decrease.” Jn. 3B29-30
Our reading this week from Jn. 3B22-36 picks up from the end of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. The scene is set at the Judean countryside where Jesus and His disciples are baptizing Jn. 3B22 (though Jn. 4B2 says that “Jesus Himself did not baptize, but only his disciples”). On the other side, at Aenon, John and His disciples are also baptizing (Jn.3B23-24). For some reason, this leads to an argument between John’s disciples and a certain Jewish man (Jn.3B25). So, the issue is purification, and what seems to have set up the dispute was the fact that John and Jesus and their disciples were baptizing in two different places. Unfortunately, the details that were discussed are not described.
The Report to John
“And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.ʼ” (Jn.3B26). From this verse, we gather that more and more people were leaving John and joining Jesus. This alarmed John’s disciples. Probably, they felt that their importance and status was under threat by Jesus increasing “popularity”. They wanted John to do something about it.
In reply, John takes the discussion in a different direction. He starts by describing his role, mission and his relationship to Jesus. “I am not the Christ,ʼ but, ‘I have been sent before Him” (Jn. 3B28). He then depicts Jesus as the bridegroom, himself as the friend of the bridegroom and what is happening in their ministries as the bride (crowds) leaving the friend of the bridegroom and going to the bridegroom. In Jn. 3B29, John lets us know of the exceeding joy that is in his heart because of this turn of events! Johnʼs response to his diminishing influence was delight. He was deriving pleasure from this!
It Is Godʼs Plan
In Jn.3B27, John answers that “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” The implication is that the crowds leaving him and going to Jesus are a result of God giving them to Jesus! That is confirmation of Jn.6B37,44,65. John tells his disciples that this is no surprise because God sent him for this very thing—that people would turn away from him and go to Jesus (Jn.3B28). As this happens, his joy increases.
John was fully satisfied with the place and work assigned him. He knew that Jesus would increase in honor and influence while he himself would be less followed. John knew that Jesus came from heaven as the Son of God.
Our lives on earth are like a stage and we are the actors called to play certain specific roles. The goal in all this is for us to preach Christ (2 Cor. 4B5)
We need to learn that when God grants us a role to play, we must perform it faithfully, but never grasp it. The time comes and the Lord lets our roles fade away. Our importance diminishes. For the Lord gives and He takes away. The role is not the reward. The Lord is the Reward. Often, we too get lost in our roles and lose the grand scheme of things. Roles will begin and they will end. And the only way for us to end well is if in our heart Jesus has increased and we have decreased.