John the Baptist was an intriguing figure in the gospel narrative. Chosen by God, adopting a drastically different life, with an equally stinging message, as a forerunner to Christ, he was a voice in the wilderness. Jesus had the highest appreciation for him and not without reason. His life was truly special and worthy of emulation. Three aspects of his life, apparent from his own statement in John 3, will be outlined here.
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 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. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.” (John3)
- Conviction of God’s sovereignty: When John’s disciples wanted to accord him a position higher than what was meant for him, John reminds them that no man can go beyond what God has ordained for him. How so often in a drive to attain the things the world has to offer, man forgets that behind all men is God who controls, governs, frees and restricts. A person’s physical attributes, his abilities and his possessions come from God’s provisions and his plans for a person. The world has a tendency to measure these attributes; however in God’s sight, each person is special and the lack or excess of some of these attributes does not make a person more or less valuable in God’s sight. Being able to rest in the fact that God has created us just as we are and that we are all precious in his sight is a great reassurance to have.
- Rejoicing in worship: John’s description of Jesus as the bridegroom and his church as the bride was repeated several times in the gospel. The bride belongs to the bridegroom and no one else. If there is one doctrine church leaders should never forget, it is this one. When ministry is done for the sole reason of exalting Christ, when all our work is done for the express purpose of accomplishing the will of God and when self is not pandered to by Christians, the church grows. Worship is central to the Christian faith and one who recognizes this fact will rejoice when he is able to fit into God’s plan for the extended church.
- Exaltation of Christ: ‘He must become greater, I must become less’ is one of the most inspiring quotes from the gospel. When Adam fell in the garden of Eden, and when we aggravate our sinful tendencies, it is a demonstration of the reverse of this quote. In all sin, we see a tendency of man to replace God with self on the throne. When submission to God is replaced by independence, it is pride. Man attempts to break God’s shackles only to find himself deeper in slavery to an inferior master. Discipleship is characterized by a daily demonstration of going back to the ideal state- one where man willingly and joyfully submits to God and ascends the summit of abundance. This process is painstaking and characterized by decisions to reduce oneself and to exalt God.
John the Baptist was one voice in the wilderness that still speaks to us today.
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