John 3:22-30 — Greater and Lesser

After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”

There are wonderful lessons in today's passage that we can learn much from. John's disciples approach him expressing concern that Jesus is baptizing and drawing more people to himself. Rather than get envious, John says that it is only right that Jesus becomes greater and he becomes lesser. Jesus is, after all, the bridegroom while he is only a friend of the groom. In his humble and wise response, John shows us how to recognize our role in God's plan and achieve it with purpose and humility. 

John understood that his purpose was to prepare the way for the Messiah, to point people to Jesus. He recognized that Jesus was the one they had been waiting for and that his own ministry would diminish in the light of Christ's greater ministry. Instead of being threatened or envious of Jesus' increasing popularity, John embraced his role as the "friend of the bridegroom," rejoicing in Jesus' success.

Let us remind ourselves how important it is to recognize our place in God's grand plan. Each of us has a role to play, like musicians in a symphony, and we need to fulfill it the best we can without envy or resentment. On the contrary, we should rejoice in the successes and accomplishments of others who are fulfilling their God-given purposes.

Furthermore, we need to examine our own attitudes and motivations. When we attempt to serve God, are we driven by personal ambition and the desire for recognition, or are we genuinely focused on pointing others to Jesus? Are we willing to diminish ourselves to lift up Christ in our lives and ministries?

In a world where everyone tries to achieve success, often at the expense of another person, let us remember Jesus' words to his apostles when they quarreled with each other about who was the greatest among them. He said: "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:42-45).

If we keep these words in mind and follow the example of John the Baptist, we should be fine.

God bless you.