|John 3:22-36||Read Online|
He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.
Many of us have gone to a wedding with great anticipation, even if it wasn’t our own. Perhaps you were a bridesmaid for a dear friend and you believed she was marrying God’s man for her. Or, maybe you were a groomsman, and you were thrilled your best friend was marrying a woman of great character who would be a great soul mate. As they looked into each other’s eyes, something in you welled up with joy for that sacred moment.
If you’ve ever been part of a wedding, you know it’s not about the wedding party, the minister, or anyone else. It’s always about the bride and groom—and usually the focus is on the bride.
Now, imagine if the maid of honor tried to steal the spotlight and get in front of the bride so that everyone could admire how beautiful she looked? What if the best man interrupted the vows to let everyone know his qualifications for being a superior husband? What if the minister gave a homily that was all about him and had nothing to do with the couple? We’d see these acts as tasteless—even offensive.
In John 3:22-36, we find the disciples of John the Baptist went to let him know there was someone else–that was Jesus—baptizing in the Jordan and people were flocking to Him. Reading between the lines, it seems they may have been saying: “We’re losing market share to this guy. What are we going to do about this? He’s getting all the attention!”
Even in religious circles, pride and envy far too often rear their ugly heads. Do we really want success for the glory of God, or do we want to build our own little kingdoms? When we speak ill of church leaders, is it to make us feel superior? How will John the Baptist respond to the relative decline of his own ministry now that people are starting to flock to Jesus?
John the Baptist’s response was a beautiful example and great challenge to us all. In essence, he said: “All I have is received from God. I don’t need to grasp for more. I’m not the Messiah but merely the forerunner to declare His arrival. He must increase and I must decrease.”
Oh yes, he also brings up the wedding analogy: “He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete” (John 3:29-30).
Rather than begrudging the attention Jesus received, John the Baptist said he rejoiced in it! Jesus is the focus. He’s the groom. The people are His bride. John says his joy was complete since people were flocking to Jesus instead of him! We learn from the remainder of this passage all the reasons why Jesus is superior and rightly the focus of our attention (see verses 31-36).
What about you? When people look at you do they see you in the spotlight, or do they see Jesus? Do you believe and live as if every gift and success you have comes from above and isn’t your own? Are you happy to decrease in the eyes of people if it means Jesus can increase? What if it entails the success of someone else’s ministry in comparison to your own? Are you content to be the friend of the groom who rejoices at his wedding?
It’s not about you. It’s not about me. Our lives find meaning as we point to the One who is Life Himself.
- When John the Baptist’s disciples told him that people were flocking to Jesus to be baptized, what attitude did John display (see 3:27-30)? Explain your answer.
- In John 3:31-36, what did you learn about Jesus that explained why He’s superior and why John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease”?
- On a scale of 1–10, with 1 being completely self-centered and 10 being completely Christ-centered, how would you rate yourself? Explain your answer.
- Today, what does it look like to live out John’s statement in your own life: “He must increase, but I must decrease”?