John the Baptist never did a miracle, never spoke in tongues, never fed 3000, never preached to thousands in a stadium, yet Jesus said of him, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist;” – Matthew 11:11
John the Baptist said - "He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30
In this one verse I find what is so special about John the Baptist and I see a recurring theme of humility and selflessness running throughout the Bible.
As an American, this whole concept is foreign. We are taught to lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps, be all that we can be, climb higher, run faster, make more, exceed your goal, win at all costs.
While Americans are striving for the most, God is telling us to strive to be the least.
Jesus said – "But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” – Mark 10:31.
“…whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.” – Mark 10:43b
As we die to our self-will, that is choose to do God’s will instead of our own, we will naturally become focused on others. Our focus will first be on Jesus, then on other people.
Yes the Bible says “I can do all things,” but it adds “through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
Author David Chappel wrote, “Ask any Christian, ‘Do you want Christ to be glorified?’ and the answer will, of course, be “Yes!” But consider what this answer cost John the Baptist. Christ increasing meant that John’s influence and ministry was decreasing! It’s easy to say we want Christ to be exalted, but are we willing for His exaltation to come at our expense? We naturally rebel at losing anything we hold dear—including our pride, but death to self is the only way we can truly exalt Christ.”
Jesus says that we must die to our “self” - Matt 16:24-26 "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
It is not until we let our selfish ambitions die, will we truly live, flourish and multiply.
Jesus uses a kernel of grain as a an example: John 12:24- 26 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”
Be careful not to confuse “dying to self” with eastern mysticism’s idea of “emptying yourself”. All meditation leaves is an empty vessel – an “empty self”. Jesus is talking about death, which leads to life. Jesus calls it being “born again.”
The Apostle Paul captured this in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Author John Gregory Mantle wrote, “There is a great difference between realizing, ‘On that Cross He was crucified for me,’ and ‘On that Cross I am crucified with Him.’ The one aspect brings us deliverance from sin’s condemnation, the other from sin’s power.”
Many have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His shed blood for atonement of sins. But have they been “crucified with Him?”
As we look into the mirror of God’s Word and study ourselves, through the scripture, we recognize ourselves in the descriptions of sin. We see ourselves oh so plainly.
But if we let the mirror of God’s word teach us and cleanse us and mold us into His likeness – we will see the image of ourselves decrease, and the image of Christ in us, increase.
This is what John the Baptist did when he stated “He must increase and I must decrease.” John was an ordinary man, not unlike you and me, who gave himself to serving God and won the praise of Jesus himself.
We cannot call Him “Lord” if we are still in charge.
Pastor Jay Merritt
Pastor Jay Merritt writes about God in every day observations.