INCREASE AND DECREASE
JOHN 3:26-30 NKJ
26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!"
27 John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.' 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Before Jesus came on the scene, John the Baptist was the hottest thing going in Israel. The nation had endured a four-hundred-year period where there was no prophetic voice. Oh, the Jews still had their religion, but it was becoming more and more dominated by the ideas and teachings of men. They were looking for that one day when the Messiah would come and make everything right. But after four hundred years, expectations most likely did not run high.
Into this tepid spiritual environment steps John the Baptist. A wild-looking man with a message of repentance and a willingness to call out the sins of a lukewarm people. Even though John performed no visible miracles, people streamed out of their cities and villages to be baptized by him. And before Jesus had disciples, John had disciples that followed him. He was a bright light in a dark land.
And then Jesus shows up. The people began to gather to hear Jesus by the thousands. And Jesus not only preached and taught, He healed the sick and raised the dead. So, the people began to follow Jesus, and the Pharisees were rubbing it in John's face. Hey John, if you are so right, why is everyone now going to Jesus?
But John had a wise answer. He revealed that he never claimed to be the Christ. He was only sent before Him. He was not the bridegroom; he was the friend, and he was rejoicing to see and hear what Jesus was doing.
John sums up his new position in verse thirty, "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease." This could not have been easy. Going from the number one voice in the land to a distant second had to be hard on the flesh, the human ego. But John knew his role and knew Jesus was the one worthy of being exalted. He knew Jesus was the answer for Israel, and he, John, was a messenger. He did not try to exalt himself or keep his position. He took a secondary place.
This could be the mantra of all believers who desire to grow as a Christian. Jesus must increase. His words and ways became the most important objective. And we must decrease, submitting our will to His. Paul would later write that we should no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:15) This is not putting ourselves down or belittling ourselves. Rather, this is exalting Jesus and aiming to see Him exalted in and through us.
This is not the easy path. Our egos and pride will kick up a fuss. But He must increase, and we must decrease. Jesus is the answer and the only One worthy to be exalted. And our role is to be His messengers pointing to Him.
Dear Lord Jesus - may You increase more and more in my life so that others will see You through me!