John Testifies Again About Jesus
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 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.”
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
As we look at how to move past a “good enough” life towards a “greater” life, we are considering ways to have a Jesus-like influence on those around us. If we seek to draw people toward Christ, we need to have a Christ-like influence on those around us. Yesterday we looked at Colossians 3, and how we are to “put on” the “clothes” of love. Think about the people you can influence in your life (we made a list yesterday). Now that we are becoming aware of our behaviors and influence, how do we become more intentional about our impact on those around us?
In the above passage, John the Baptizer had a lot of influence. He was baptizing a lot of people! He could have easily let his ego grow and become prideful of his efforts, but his goal was not to gain notice for himself. He was leveraging his influence to draw people toward Jesus. And when his friends pointed out that he was not getting all the attention, he reminded them that it was time for him to step back. His purpose was not to point to himself but to Jesus. He said it is much like a friend who attends to a bridegroom. The friend waits and listens, fully attending to the bridegroom. And the friend is full of joy at the sound of the bridegroom’s voice.
In this scenario, we are the friend, we are John the Baptist. It is not our job to have influence over people so that we can lord it over them, but rather so that we can point them straight to Jesus. And we do this because we are in love with Jesus. We know his voice so well that the sound of it brings us joy. And friends, the only way to know the “voice” of Jesus is to spend time with him. Spend time reading the scriptures, studying Jesus, praying, and focusing your attention on him. As you grow in your love for Jesus, so does your love of God and others. It becomes more natural to clothe yourself in compassion, to bear with one another, to forgive.
Influence for your personal gain is worthless in the kingdom of God. Influence that points people straight to Jesus is part of our calling as disciples. If this is a struggle for you, begin with falling more in love with Jesus.
Dear Lord, you came as a humble servant, and you call us to follow your life and example. Show me how to listen to your voice, not the voice of culture. Guide me past settling for “good enough,” and into the greater life you call me to. Give me humility, courage and grace in this journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.