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Let’s pray. But this is the one to whom I will look, he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My Word. We ask, O Lord, that you look upon us now, in your kindness, speak to us. Give us ears to hear. We want to be those who are humble and contrite in spirit, those who tremble at Your Word. If we are not, if we do not, then make us so to be and to do, that we might know your favor, that you would look upon us and smile, even as we tremble. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Most of us are drawn to greatness, even if we’re not particularly ambitious ourselves for greatness, though many of us are, then we at least like to see it and we marvel at it. I mentioned last Sunday evening the Winter Olympics. I won’t say anything more about curling because I know that just gets your mind going, you can’t think about anything else as soon as I mention curling, but I’m many of you have watched the Winter Olympics. It’s a little different. The Summer Olympics feel like hey, most of us have sort of done something like that. We’ve run or we’ve been in a pool, we’ve shot a basketball, we’ve had a golf club, and we’ve done some of those things. But the Winter Olympics are often strange. You never just went off a cliff and jumped to see how far you could go and land. We were watching some of that last night and Trisha said “how to you get started in that? Is it a gift or is it punishment?” Children, pewwww.
But it’s amazing. They, they showed that where that high ski jump, it’s at the very top. It’s taller than the Statue of Liberty. And you go down and you launch almost a football field and a half in the air. I couldn’t see any parachutes. It seemed very ill-advised. But they land and they get style points and you’ve seen the various other things, cross-country skiing for over an hour seems really exhausting, and of course the things that the ice skaters can do to spin and twirl and every four years it comes along and we try to learn what it means that they’re twizzling, but I guess it’s a really good thing, important thing. Even if we don’t understand, we can, we can follow along in the Olympics and see this is amazing what people can do, how coordinated they are, their endurance, their, their training over years and a lifetime for this moment.
If you’re a sports fan, there is always things that you’re drawn to. Some of you may have followed this is the All-Star weekend for the NBA, last night 3-point contest and dunk contest, and I used to be able to touch the net, and yet these people are just flying through the air and putting the ball between their legs. It’s amazing what they can do. We’ll have March Madness coming up. All sorts of things.
And if sports aren’t your thing, then you have something else. You can go to an art museum and marvel at the Dutch masters or look at the exquisite use of light and shadow or what the artist was trying to convey. Or maybe some of you love to read military history and can fully appreciate the genius and the greatness of a great flanking maneuver.
We aspire to greatness. Even if we’re not particularly ambitious, we enjoy being in the presence of greatness. We have a President who campaigned on the slogan to “Make America Great Again.”
So what is true greatness? Well, let me tell you who Jesus thought was great. And that should matter to us, I hope. Whether you’re a Christian or not, you’re probably here and you kind of like Jesus, so it would be important to recognize who did Jesus think was truly great. I think we all agree we have something to learn from Jesus’ definition of greatness. Here’s what he said in Luke 7:28: “I tell you among those born of women, none is greater than John (meaning John the Baptist). Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” None born of women, so excluding Himself born from above, though he had an earthly mother. No one as great as John the Baptist. What made John so great?
Well, clearly the main thing Jesus had in mind in Luke chapter 7 was the mission of John, his mission made him great because he was the great forerunner; he was the one to prepare the way for the Lord, for Christ, the Messiah Himself. That’s the main thing. But it’s not the only thing. John’s greatness consisted of two things, his mission and his meekness. That’s why Jesus follows it up by saying “I tell you that he who is least in the kingdom of heaven will be greater than John.” As great as John was with his unique mission to prepare the way for the Messiah, you can be even greater if you will be least in the kingdom of heaven.
If you want to be impressive in the world’s eyes, then look to money, to fame, to accolades, to followers, to accomplishments. If you want to be, however, impressive in Jesus’ eyes, look to John the Baptist.
Follow along as I read from John, chapter 3. You can turn there if you’re not there already. John, chapter 3, beginning at verse 22: “After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside and He remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine if now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.'”
This, friends, is true greatness. And I wonder, in all your striving and all of your inspirational movies and in all that you hear from maybe even parents and teachers, I hope that somewhere this message of true greatness has been put before you. Because it is a greatness that is available to all but found in very, very few. And often those that are greatest in the world’s eyes are far, far from great in our Lord’s eyes.
Let me explain the context of this passage, and then show you four things that John says as a demonstration of true greatness. So first, let’s look at the setting. You see in verses 22 through 24, beginning there in verse 22, Jesus and his disciples now go out into the Judean countryside. It says after “this,” that is, after the explanation that we’ve just had in chapter 3 in the occasion with Nicodemus and the speech about God so loving the world, sometime after this, it’s an indefinite term, we don’t know how many days or weeks perhaps, they go out now into the Judean countryside and Jesus is baptizing. Now look very carefully, there’s an important point of clarification. Chapter 4, verse 2, has in parentheses there “although Jesus Himself but only His disciples,” so it clarifies when it says “He’s baptizing” it means He’s sort of leading this baptismal scene, it was actually His disciples who were administering the water.
So Jesus is there, baptizing, or actually we learn later his disciples, and John the Baptist was there, too, at a place called Aenon near Salim. Aenon means “spring,” Salim means “peace.” It was a place of plentiful water, plentiful springs, many places where you could administer this baptism.
Now look for a moment at verse 24, this note that is put in parentheses. Of course, in the original Greek there were no parentheses, but this is what the translators have decided is the best way to understand this little note here: John had not yet been put in prison. Well, what does that mean? Okay, obviously, John is baptizing people, and Jesus is baptizing people, so, I mean, the original readers here, they should have understood very clearly, yeah, he’s not in prison yet. And remember, just so you don’t get confused, there’s John the Baptist and then there’s the author of this Gospel, who is John the beloved disciple, two different people. So John, the Gospel writer, is saying about John the Baptist, he’s not yet been put in prison. Now that should be obvious, so why does he include that note? Well, the comment presumes that the original audience was familiar with the general facts and timeline conveyed in the other Gospels, that is to say, John, who wrote this, understood that he was writing to as best as we can figure, almost-converts or new converts who wanted to be established in the faith. They had hears these stories, they understood something of the Gospel story, and knew something about John the Baptist and how he ended up in prison and how he was beheaded by Herod.
So he puts this note here to indicate to us that he understands the timeline. Because here’s what we may not realize in reading the Gospels, and often they just sort of all blur together, is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, these are sometimes called the Synoptic Gospels, they have a certain kind of timeline which generally track with each other and then John sort of puts things in a different light. So in Mark 1:14, Jesus it is said started his ministry after John was arrested. In Luke 4:16, Jesus starts his public ministry in Nazareth, which is after the temptation in the wilderness. And we read in Matthew 4:12, Jesus began his ministry after being tempted in the wilderness and after withdrawing to Galilee and after John had been put into prison.
So the general timeline in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is that when Jesus finally bursts on the scene with his public ministry in Galilee, it’s after John had already been put in prison. So knowing that, John, the writer of the fourth gospel, is anticipating that there may be some confusion. Okay, what’s going on here because I though Jesus wasn’t really doing his big public ministry until John was put into prison. But he says here, no, this was, this was before that.
See, what John tells us, and it’s only hinted at perhaps in the other Gospels, is that Jesus must have had a public Judean ministry prior to his public Galilean ministry, so Judea in the south, Galilee in the north of Israel, Galilee is where he was from, where he grew up around Nazareth, and that would be the Sea of Galilee, and Chorazin, and Bethsaida, and Capernaum, all those cities up there. So it seems that what happened is Jesus had some sort of public ministry in Judea where he overlapped with John the Baptist for a time, and then owing to John being put into prison, Jesus withdrew for a time, because it wasn’t yet His time to be arrested and put to death, He withdrew for a time and He launched that next phase of His public ministry in Galilee, and that’s the phase that we see highlighted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
So the comment here in verse 24 is John’s way of signaling to his audience this stuff happened before most of what you know about Jesus’ public ministry. This was even before John was arrested.
So we come now to verses 25 and 26, this controversy that arose. We read in verse 25 there’s a discussion between John’s disciples and an unnamed Jew. Now some people have speculated over the years that this unnamed Jew was, in fact, Jesus, but it seems unlikely that John would be telling us about Jesus without mentioning Him. Rather, there is some anonymous person, we don’t know who, whose getting into a dispute with some of John’s disciples about purification.
Now we don’t know exactly what this was about, either, but we can speculate. The Jews in the first century had all sorts of purification rites. There were things that you had to do to wash your hands before meals, and there were ways that your clothes had be purified, and there were certain things you had to do to your head all the way down to your toes to render you ritually clean and pure. And so probably there is some dispute about that and how does that correspond to this baptism that John is doing, and are they the same thing or are they different, so there’s this discussion.
And now this leads to verse 26. Somehow on this discussion of water and purification the disciples to John come back and now they raise another issue related to baptism, water, purification. And it is a classic case of petty jealousy, territorial ministry.
Now thankfully I have not seen that in this church, but it exists in other churches, I’m sure. You get people in there, you know, the youth ministry and the senior adults ministry, and the choir ministry, and the Sunday School ministry, and none of the ministries talk to each other and none of them root for each other, everything is just about how my little slice of the world, my little ministry, my little territory.
Or if it doesn’t happen in a church, it can happen in a city, that we would think the only thing that God is doing in this city is through Christ Covenant. Well, praise the Lord, He’s not doing all that He’s doing through Christ Covenant, not even through the PCA, not even through just Reformed people. Huh huh, the nerve. [laughter] Of course, we’re thankful for our church, thankful for our denomination. We believe our theology because we believe it to be from the Bible, but we don’t want to have a territorial sort of spirit, now look what’s going on over there. Discerning, of course. Not all churches in our city are good churches. But there are many that are, and we root for them and we cheer them on.
Well, here’s a case of classic territorialism, classic jealousy. Not from John, as we’ll see, but from his disciples. Look at verse 26, you can hear the concern in their voice with almost every word. “Rabbi,” okay, they’re saying “you’re an important teacher, John.” Now at this point in Israel’s history, “rabbi” was not a formal designation; later there would be a sort of, we might think of an ordination sort of process to be a rabbi, but here anybody who was your teacher, who you follow, you call a “rabbi.” It was like “Rabbi, okay, you’re important John, listen up. He who was with you, okay, I’m not going to mention this name, I’m not going to say who he is, but you know who I’m talking about, John, that guy on the other side of the Jordan, you remember him? The one to whom you, John, Rabbi, Master, bore witness? Let’s just remember that, John. You bore witness to him, he’s after you, he owes you. Isn’t that the guy over there who got the start because of you, John? You bore witness to him, you introduced him to the world. You blurbed his books and now look what’s happening? He is baptizing. Rabbi, that’s your deal. You’re John the Baptist. That’s all you got, man. [laughter] That’s what you are.” And then look at the very last line: “And all are going to him.” Overstatement, hyperventilating, “Rabbi, that guy, I’m not going to even say who he is, you bore witness, you gave him his start, he’s over there doing your deal, he’s baptizing, everyone’s going after him. What are you going to do?”
Man, they are worked up. And this sets the stage for this controversy that is brewing, and you get the heart of John’s disciples, you can hear it in their words, you can see it in your own heart, how you would feel that way, some other school or church or athlete or house, just the competition that comes out in the human spirit. And it’s what makes John’s words so amazing, and what makes John such an example of true greatness.
Let me show you four things that he says in reply to his disciples hyperventilating. Verses 27, 28, 29, and 30. Four statements, in each of those four verses.
So the first thing he says in verse 27: Look, it’s all from God anyway. I mean, what a response. John answered a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You see what he’s saying to his disciples? “Look, what I’ve been doing, what I have, it’s just a gift from God. My calling is to prepare the way. Jesus, the Christ, what He’s been given is from God and His way, His calling, is to be the Way. My calling to prepare the way, His calling to be the Way. That’s the way God lined it up.” And you can just hear them, sort of “but, John, he’s your protégé.” And John says “no, he’s the point. He’s not my protégé.”
Now listen friends, is this your attitude? My attitude? When you see others succeed? Now it’s one thing if you see other succeed in something that you’re not interested in at all. Ski jump? You know, float a million miles, I don’t feel threatened. [laughter] I’m not about that, I’ve never tried that. But you get people who are, you know, they’re preaching, well, that’s, that’s what I do. And you can line up what it is that you do, your, your vocation or your career, the thing you’re about in school. If you’re the music person, you don’t get bent out of shape at the person who runs around the track fast, but if you’re the fast person, then you do.
I’ve said before one of the reasons that it’s so hard to be a mom is that almost every other woman your age has the same vocation. I don’t hang around, you know, 400 pastors all the time. There’s a few of us, but moms can look on Facebook and see, okay, everyone else here that I’m seeing has the same job that I have, the same calling that I have. So you get that comparison, how are you doing, how am I doing, what’s going right, what’s failing.
It’s hard, it’s very hard for the human spirit to celebrate the successes of others. Now we know how to do it on the outside. “It’s great,” [laughter]. You know, you read those things sometimes on Facebook: “What a wonder this morning, four kids came in with breakfast, singing hymns. #blessed.” [laughter] You just think I’m sooo happy for you, and that completely fabricated story. [laughter]
When you find that others seem to have more than you, more recognized than you, more gifts than you, more opportunities than you, is your first response “oh, it’s all from God”? That’s what John says… It’s amazing.
You think of like the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, and the people who come at the 11th hour, they get a denarius just like the people who’ve been working for 12 hours, they get the same thing, and so the people that were there for 12 hours just grumble to the landowner, “what are you doing? Hey, we were here 12 hours, they were here 1 hour. They got one denarius, we got one denarius. What gives?” And remember what the landowner says? “Don’t I have a right to do what I want with my money, or are you upset because I am generous? You upset because you think I’m being too good to people?”
Do you see the world with the goggles of fairness or through the glasses of grace? That will make all the difference. Some of you wake up every morning and it’s those fairness goggles. I’m not saying we turn a blind eye to real injustice and fight against it, but I’m saying just as a way of life you just put on those fairness goggles, just who’s getting what, what’s going on, why are they getting so blessed, what’s happening over there? Instead of the glasses of grace that say “not one thing have I received except it be given from God in heaven. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights.” That’s what John says. “Hey, disciples, you’re freaking out because he’s getting all these people over there. Look, whatever I’ve been doing, it’s just a gift from God anyway.”
What a tremendous gift it is when other people root for us, when other people cheer us on. I’ve been so blessed in my life to have so many older mentors or pastors encourage me and cheer me on, and I think will I do the same with my “disciples”? It’s one thing to be complimentary to all the people older than you. That’s okay, they’ve gone a long ways and of course they’re beyond you. It’s another thing when it’s your peers, or let alone when it becomes people younger than you and you say well, you do have more gifts, or praise the Lord for what He’s doing. Now, if you bring in, you know, Sinclair Ferguson and tell me that’s the greatest sermon you’ve ever heard, oh, I can, yeah, sure. You get our pastoral intern and say it’s the greatest sermon you’ve ever heard, then I start really wondering what I’m doing. [laughter] But, but, we’re great like John is great, we love to hear that. We love to see our own people surpass us in gifts and abilities and influence. We love to see others. We cheer for one another. It’s easier to cheer for each other when we realize we’re on the same team and all that we have is a gift from the same God.
And then look at the second thing that John says in verse 28. So first he says verse 27, “it’s all from God anyway,” and then verse 28, he says “I already told you I’m not the Christ.” Now wouldn’t we see this whole situation as a tremendous threat, even if our theology was straight enough to know, okay, I know what I’m supposed to say, I know that I’ve been preparing the way and He’s the Messiah, okay, I understand that. But, but in our hearts there’d be, there’d be something kind of “hey, Jesus, you’ll get your time, just, just pause. Do you have to be baptizing right here? Can’t you see I’m doing something? Go elsewhere.” Sort of “I don’t want you encroaching upon me. This is why we got rid of Jimmy Garoppolo, come on.” [laughter] If you believe the reports. This is why your favorite band always breaks up, because somebody can’t stand that the lead singer over here is not getting nearly as much attention as the bass player. This is why every single White House always has backbiting and infighting, expect for our White House, that one doesn’t, up there. But it doesn’t matter your political allegiance, there’s always stories of it. There’s this sort of spirit of “well, look he’s getting more and he’s getting ahead, and he’s getting attention and I’m not.”
I mean, think of the scene here. You have two rabbis, you have two sets of disciples, you have two crowds, you have two scenes of baptism. John’s been the big dog, and now this upstart, his younger cousin, is just, just sucking all the oxygen out of the room, and John’s disciples want to know, what are you going to do about it? And John says “what am I going to do about it? I’m going to step aside. That’s what I’m going to do about it. I have a purpose; it’s a good purpose, it’s a divine purpose, I’ve been sent to prepare the way. I have not been sent to be the Way. I prepare for Him.”
So listen, you have a purpose. It’s a good purpose. It’s a divine purpose. God has you here for a reason. He has you in the place you’re in for a reason, the school you’re in, the family you’re in, the job you’re in, for a reason. He has a purpose for you, and your purpose is not to be the Christ. It’s not my purpose either. It’s not to be the Christ in your marriage, not to be the Christ in your home, not to be the Christ in your school, not to be the Christ in your church. Now you can take that as very discouraging news, “well, I thought I was pretty special,” or you can take it as unbelievably good news: “oh, I don’t have to atone for the sins of the world. I don’t have to send the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin, righteousness, and judgment. I am not the Christ.” John has already professed it. He reminds them again: “You bear me witness, my disciples. I told you already He’s the Messiah, not me. And let’s get that straight.”
Then he makes a third statement. So he says verse 27, “it’s all from God anyway,” verse 28, “I already told you I’m not the Christ,” and then verse 29, “I’m just thrilled to be the best man.” It’s really the technical term for what we would call in our day the best man. It says in verse 29 “the friend of the groom.” So the friend of the groom is the one who stands by, he’s the one who makes preparations, he’s the one to ensure that everything is set up, he’s the one to make sure that the wedding ceremony goes off as a smashing success. And if there’s one central rule, okay, you can mess up a lot of things as the best man. But here’s just the one rule, you know, just unbreakable rule: You do not marry the bride. [laughter] Just let’s, a lot of best mans, they stumble along, you just hope they remember the ring and don’t look too goofy and don’t faint, but the only thing you really can’t do is marry the bride. There were actually ancient laws against this that under no circumstance was the best man ever to marry the groom’s wife.
It gives you some insight, you remember, with Sampson? This is one of the reasons he was getting so enraged with the Philistines, at one point, at the end of chapter 14, his wife was given away to his best man? Every culture would have understood no, that’s just, that’s just a huge no-no. You don’t do that. We have laws against that. And yet if we’re honest, sometimes in our heart of hearts we’re quite happy to draw the attention of the church away from Christ and onto us. Pastors can do it as well as anyone. Our temptation is perhaps greater than anyone.
This scene that John is describing would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. He says the one who has the bride is the bridegroom. Okay? The groom gets the bride. Now I am the friend, I stand and I hear, but I don’t get the bride. That’s not what the best man does. That’s not what the friend does. You can picture, sort of awkward scene, standing here, the bride, walking down, coming down arrayed in all of her splendor and beauty and glory. The best man, [laughter] throwing some winks, throwing some hay, you know, “call me,” [laughter]. Awkward. That, that’s not really the spot of the best man. He’s to stand there. You would think it was a terrible reception if he’s breaking into the first dance, he’s the one there interceding with the cake eating and all that, just “hey, man, it’s not your day.”
And yet, we can act that way with Christ. We think our ministry is about people recognizing us. We want the people we are discipling to need us as much as they need Christ. We want the people we pastor to love us like they love Christ. We think our class, our group, our para-church organization or our thing on Sunday, our passion, should be center stage spotlight for everyone.
John would have been well aware that in the Old Testament Israel is often regarded as the bride of Yahweh. We see it in Isaiah 54, or the passages in Ezekiel 16, or with Hosea and Gomer and final in Ephesians chapter 5. The bride is for the groom, the groom is for the bride. Do you know your place? Do you know your job? Do you know your spot in the bridal party? Rejoice for people to meet the groom. Happy for the bride and the groom to fall in love.
What do you do when the wedding has taken place? Well, here’s the one thing you don’t do as the best man, you do not go on the honeymoon. Okay, nope, I’m here for you, glad the day has gone well, now this is about you. Okay? The church and Christ together, not the church and Christ and, you know, your ministry or the pastor photobombing, the church and Christ.
Listen to what Calvin says, this is a remarkable paragraph. He says: “For as he who marries a wife does not call and invite his friends to the marriage in order to prostitute the bride to them, or by giving up his own rights to allow them to partake with him of the nuptial bed, but rather that the marriage being honored by them may be rendered more sacred, so Christ does not call his ministers to the office of teaching in order that by conquering the church they may claim dominion over it, but that He may make use of their faithful labors for associating them with Himself.” That’s the call of the pastor. It’s your call in whatever ministry God has given to you. John says, in a moment of remarkable humility, “I am just thrilled to be the best man at this wedding.” Aren’t those the kind of guests that you want at your wedding? You don’t want people sort of moping around and hanging out at the gift table, “none of these have my name on it, I don’t know why I even came here, I’m not getting any presents here, nobody’s giving a toast to me.”
No, you invite them so that they celebrate with you, their happiness is contagious. John says I could not be happier than to step aside and have the groom take center stage. He says even, if you look in verse 29, “therefore this joy of mine is now complete.” His disciples have the idea “John, what’s going on? You must be miserable. What’s happening? You’re the baptist guy. He’s baptizing. Everything’s going on. He’s stealing all of your thunder, all of your noise. Man, what are we going to do?” John says, “I’m going to rejoice. I’ve never been happier. My joy is complete.”
What completes your joy? Most of us, it’s always, we’re always thinking the next thing. The next click on Amazon, that’s when it’s really going to just complete my, the next time I get a better job, you know, the next time, if I could just have a boyfriend or girlfriend or if I could just be engaged or if we could just be married or if I could just have a kid, or if I could just rid of the kids, [laughter] or if I could just be retired… It’s always the next thing to complete my joy. John says this makes me absolutely ecstatic, to step aside and point to Christ.
Listen, this is the lie of the devil, the lie of the devil says you will only be happy, you’ll only be happy if you fight with all of your strength and might to be first place in everything. And it’s the freedom of the Gospel to say you know what? Die to yourself. Be least, be last, and it’s not an invitation to be miserable, it’s an invitation to have a happiness that the world doesn’t possibly understand.
It’s not about me. It’s not my party. I am not the main attraction. Why don’t you say that with me. It’s not about me. Say it. [It’s not about me.] It’s not my party. [It’s not my party.] I am not the main attraction. [I am not the main attraction.] It feels good, doesn’t it? [laughter] I’m not sure you meant it, but just think about it. [laughter] It’s so freeing. It’s not about you. Or me. You’re, you’re not the star of the show. It’s not your party.
You get to be at the party. You get to be a part of, you’re one of the attendants. It’s not your party. You rejoice to know the groom, to hear his voice.
And here’s one last thing John says: “I need to get less important and He needs to get more important.” This is true greatness. Your favorite athletes, your favorite movie stars, your favorite politicians, your favorite heroes… They may be doing great things in a certain way, but listen, no hero is truly great unless he is truly humble. You’re not really great unless you are really humble.
One commentator says the last words of John to be recorded in this Gospel from surely one of the greatest utterances ever to fall from human lips. That’s right. He must increase, I must decrease.
Is this your prayer? Is it my prayer? Is this your purpose?
You may be familiar with a line from John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I’d like to add a complementary line: “We will only be most satisfied when we delight in God being most glorified. We will only be most satisfied when we delight in God being most glorified.” It so mitigates against everything in our human nature.
When you’re a kid and you go to the park and there’s, there’s somebody at the slide and you’re waiting to go up, or at the pool, and what do you say? Get down! It’s my turn. Get down, go! And they’re just waiting up there, just loitering up at the top of the slide. Get down, it’s my turn to go up! Would you get down? That’s what you think as a kid. We think the same thing as adults, we just become a little more socialized with how we express it. That’s the human heart. Would you get down so I can get up?
True greatness is just the opposite. Let me get down so that Jesus can get up. Calvin again says in the meantime he declares that he will most willingly endure to be reduced to nothing provided that Christ occupy and fill the whole world with His rays, and this zeal of John, all pastors of the church ought to imitate by stooping with the head and shoulders to elevate Christ.
Is that your purpose and mine? Is it your prayer and mine? I’ll bend down if it means I’m lifting up Christ.
They asked “what are you going to do about it, John? He’s out there baptizing.” And John says “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to lay myself down and I’m going to lift him up. And you know what? I will be wonderfully happy doing it.”
You’ve been told your whole life that you’re special and you are, you’re special, but you’re not a savior. And you don’t need the light of the moon when the sun has arisen.
Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, we want to be great. We see from Jesus He even encourages us to strive to be great. But oh, how often, we strive in all the wrong ways. Let us be first by being last. Let us be great by being least. Let us go up by going down. And may our prayer and our purpose always be that of John the Baptist’s in all his greatness, I must decrease, Christ must increase. We pray in His name. Amen.