He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
John didn’t proclaim Jesus out in the wilderness and baptize people in order to make a name for himself or become famous. He didn’t want to be known, but he wanted to make Jesus known. He was merely a signpost saying, “Look over there. He’s the one you need to follow. He is much, much greater than I.” John wanted Jesus to be more popular than him. He wanted his disciples to leave his side and follow after Jesus. He wanted Jesus’ ministry to grow and thrive even as his diminished. He knew that was his purpose, and he was determined to fulfill it by pointing as many people as he could to the Lord.
While others might worry about someone else stealing their thunder, John was content to fade into the background as Jesus took center stage, as He became the one the people sought out and clamored over. May we be equally willing to simply shrink down and let Christ be magnified in our lives. May the self in us be pushed aside so that a Christlikeness is visible in us. May we be signposts as John was, pointing others to the true Lamb of God and not seeking attention, fame, or notoriety.
Do we really have that humble attitude of John in our lives? Sometimes the flesh within us battles with that spirit of submission and seeks to be noticed and receive recognition. We all like to feel appreciated for the things we do. We like that attention. But the work of Christ is not about us and what we’ve done. Our ministries aren’t so we look good and other people praise us. Our purpose today is the same as John’s: to show people the way to Jesus.
The Jews who questioned John thought he might be upset that Jesus was becoming more popular than he was, but that was what John ultimately wanted to happen. The more the name of Jesus was heard among the crowds, the more curiosity was piqued about this man doing amazing things, the more people sought to hear Him speak and experience His touch on their lives, the more John rejoiced. Unlike John the Baptist, our name may never be known by anyone other than our family and friends. But may that be enough for us as long as we are glorifying God, pointing others to the Savior, and doing what He wants us to do with our lives.