After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. John [i.e. John the Baptist] also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized–for John had not yet been thrown into prison. Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification. 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.” John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 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. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.
– John 3:22-30
John the Baptist was a very interesting man. His father was a priest of the temple in Jerusalem. This was a prestigious position in those days, and John would have been entitled to inherit that position. However, the priesthood had become corrupt and so John followed the call of God by going out into the wilderness and baptizing people in rivers and such. Because of this, the corrupt priests considered John something of a wild man, but the people of Israel generally heeded his message of repentance from sin (baptism being a ceremonial washing intended to signify a cleansing from one’s sins).
Generally speaking, the people who responded to John’s call for repentance recognized Jesus as having been sent by God while the priests, Pharisees, and others who thought John had gone off the deep end saw Jesus as a false prophet. What this demonstrates is the wisdom of God in sending John as a forerunner of Jesus.
It’s fascinating to see John rejoice that he’s losing disciples to Jesus. Rather than being jealous, he’s happy! And that last line of the passage is a perfect one for all of us to live by.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, increase in my priorities today that I might decrease in them. Thy will be done…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)