Willing to Wane
“He must become greater; I must become less.”
John 3:30 (NIV)
Someone once quoted this verse to me when I was going into great detail about my personal troubles. I must have got boring, and the Bible came to his aid… or else I must have got stuck in a loop of harmful thoughts, and the Bible came to my aid. The message was that God’s agenda had to take over and mine needed to diminish.
This is what happened to John the Baptist: He was something of a celebrity at the time, famous for announcing a change of religious dispensation and instituting the symbolic act of immersion in water. It seems he even had the acceptance of the religious authorities to begin with—until he refused point-blank to baptise those who were there to keep up with the trend. He humbly baptised Jesus, and saw a manifestation of God which convinced him that Jesus was the promised Messiah. And then his friends started leaving him to follow Jesus. John, already beginning to dwindle in influence, joyfully accepted that his ministry was on the wane. Shortly after this, John’s inconvenient honesty on the topic of Herod’s morals resulted in imprisonment and later execution, followed by the further post-mortem insult of having his head presented to his enemies at a birthday party. This is what Jesus said of John: “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” (Matthew 11:11).
Not everyone was so pleased by the rising fame of Jesus’ miracles and by the way the crowds followed and listened to him. Ostensibly, the scribes and Pharisees were looking for the Messiah, but they didn’t ask, “Is this man sent by God?” They asked, “How can we diminish the danger to our religious status?” It was hard work trying to shrink God back to where they thought he belonged, when even the grave scored no victory. This is what Jesus said to them: “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces…. Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:43, 52).
Let’s be willing to wane before the gospel message.
God our Father, give us, too, the humility to see your greatness. In Jesus’ name.
Study by Fiona Jones
Worldwide Church of God Perth
Combination of house churches and monthly outreach service and lunch Gillespie Centre, Dunfermline
Fortnightly House churches on other Saturdays