Two baptizers: Jesus and John. John had another purpose, which was making the way straight for the Lord Jesus. Jesus had another purpose, which was redeeming the world. And Jesus was John’s best man, helping to ensure Jesus’ wedding was a success…
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.”
John and Jesus were baptizing people in the same region with the same purpose under the same mandate from God. People needed to turn from their sin and repent because the kingdom of God is near (Matthew 3:2). Their purposes were not in contrast or competition. But people wanted to make it that. That’s what we do. It’s natural. Human nature. And John wasn’t having any.
John had another purpose beyond baptizing. It was making the way straight for the Lord Jesus to come. To be the voice crying out in the wilderness that God was sending redemption. Jesus had another purpose beyond baptizing also. It redeeming the world.
John’s answer was mature and on-mission and not giving in to the petty competitive back and forth. “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven… He must become greater; I must become less.” John knew he was a friend of the groom and not the groom himself.
And the job of the best man is to make the groom look best. He is the lead attendant to the groom, assisting the wedding day to be successful. John knew he was the best man. God had given Jesus’ mission to him from heaven and John knew it was time for Jesus to become greater and for John to become less.
That time is now for me too. And for you. We need to become less as Jesus becomes greater in his mission as Messiah. Tell people about him. Celebrate his coming with joy. And then give the spotlight to Jesus.
Thanks for the lesson in humility and mission, John. We needed that.