Yesterday we discussed how John the Baptist viewed Jesus, but today we look at how he viewed his ministry versus Jesus’. John had a lot of disciples who loyally followed him, even after he was put in prison. As I mentioned before, even today, over 2,000 years later, he still has followers in the Middle East.
But his disciples saw a problem developing. We don’t know how an argument about ceremonial washing led to this subject, but for some reason it prompted his acolytes to confront their teacher. They'd seen John baptize Jesus, which would normally mean that John was the spiritual superior in their relationship. They heard that Jesus had set up his own ministry, which included baptism and teaching, just like John’s. But now they saw that Jesus was getting more and more attention, which was naturally drawing it away from their beloved master.
What was John’s reaction? First he started with a general principle, which could be applied to both himself and Jesus: Our assignments are not something we can apply for or complain about; they’re given to us from above. God had given John a certain task, and now the Messiah, according to the Father’s plan, was going to take center stage. John was going to lose more and more followers to Jesus as time went on.
And what was John’s reaction? Overwhelming joy! He compared himself to a friend of the bridegroom, roughly equivalent to our “best man.” In those days, the groom, not the bride, was the central person in a wedding. When the friend of the bridegroom had done his job well, then no one would be thinking about him at all. Total success for the friend of the bridegroom would end in everyone focused on the most important person there.
I'd like to adopt the final verse from today’s passage as the guiding principle for my life, wouldn’t you? Of course, John was referring primarily to their respective ministries, but it applies so well to a host of other areas. I heard a preacher once say that if people walk away from his sermons and said “What a magnificent speaker!” then he'd failed utterly. If they walked away and said “What a magnificent Savior!” then he felt that he'd succeeded.
I don’t believe that becoming more like Christ somehow “dissolves” my personality. But when it comes to my sin and my selfishness, the more people see of Christ--and the less people see of Keith--the better. How about you?
Lord Jesus, you're so wonderful, so magnificent, so gracious and holy. Please change me. I want to think more like you, talk more like you, and act more like you.