He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:30 ESV
For John the Baptist’s disciples, there was a problem. Thus far, John was the primary prophet in the land; actually, the only prophet in the land and the first in about four hundred years as well. This resulted in John gaining a large following from “all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem” (Mark 1:5).
Yet now there was another on the scene: Jesus.
Granted, John and Jesus had already met, and John had already claimed that proclaiming Jesus was the entire point of his ministry. However, there was still a tension in minds’ of John’s disciples. Jesus was now gathering a larger following than John did. Surely, this was troublesome to him, so his disciples approached John about the issue. John’s answer, however, clearly reveals the state of his heart. He answers that the best man at a wedding does not get jealous because the groom is going home with bride; instead, the best man rejoices that the bride has found the groom.
This mentality defined John. He never really considered anyone his followers; rather, he just wanted them to see Jesus. Yes, he did continue his ministry after Jesus began, but he knew that Jesus’ glorious light would certainly outshine himself. He merely rejoiced that Jesus, the true light, was being glorified.
John understood that his own life was never really about himself but about Jesus.
John knew that a ministry that centered on himself was a doomed ministry, while a ministry that was centered on Christ could never fail (even when it may appear to so by worldly standards).
John recognized the importance of dying to oneself, the importance of forsaking one’s own life for the sake of Jesus. Surely, it was this Christ-consumed mentality that led Jesus to claim that “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). After all, in the kingdom of God, the greatest is the one who considers his own life forfeit for the sake of Christ, just as Christ forfeited His own life for our sake.
John understood that more of Jesus and less of himself was needed.
Is this the cry our own hearts?
May we forsake ourselves in order that Jesus might increase in us.