Becoming Less

Background Story: John the Baptist, son of Elizabeth and the priest Zechariah now begins his ministry. It is believed he was in his late 20’s or early 30’s.

Read: Matthew 3: 1-17

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’”

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Big Idea: The purpose of our lives is not to elevate ourselves but Jesus.

John the Baptist was born to prepare the way for the Messiah, the deliverer who was soon approaching. He spoke a hard message to the people about a repentant heart calling the crowd to stop religious routines and surrender their heart to God through repentance. People came from far and wide to hear him.

Later in the book of John (different John), it says that John the Baptist’s followers came, “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.’ To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.  You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 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. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:26-30)

The people around John the Baptist saw Jesus becoming greater in His ministry and I guess wanted John to step it up. But John knew that he was not the Messiah and had a specific role to play in the story of God’s redemption. I love his statement where he says, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John knew it was not about him, but about exalting and elevating Jesus above himself.

In each of our lives, this is also true. The Christian’s mission is to elevate Jesus, not ourselves. Whether at school, in our jobs, in college, in our relationships… our ultimate calling is that our lives become less about us and more about Jesus. People far from God don’t need another good person, they need to see the truth of Jesus’ message in our lives. He is the heart transformer! Today go to God, surrendering yourself to God’s purposes and ask Him for opportunities today to lift Jesus higher.

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