Jealous John the Baptist

Old Church

Old Church

Did John the Baptist ever get jealous of Jesus? I bet he was tempted. Check out John 3:26 –

And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness – look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

Just a short time before this John the Baptist was the toast of the town. People were flocking to him by the hundreds, all eager to repent and be dunked in the Jordan (hence John’s nickname). John was the evangelical rock star of the day, and his ministry was flourishing.

Then Jesus comes along and everything changes. Jesus heals festering lepers, puts life into rotting corpses, and preaches with heart-riveting power. People aren’t so interested in JTB any more. The success of Jesus takes away from the success of John.

Yet how does John respond to all this? You’d think he might throw a pity party and go munch on some grasshopper comfort food. But he doesn’t. He says:

The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease

At a wedding, the groom is the center of attention. Friends of the groom stand off to the side and joyfully let all glory fall on the groom. John knew that Jesus was the groom of history, and John found his joy in seeing Jesus magnified, even at the expense of his own success. John was happy to see himself grow smaller in the eyes of the world if it meant Jesus would become more famous.

There’s going to be many times when we’re surpassed by other people in realms of serving God. Someone will come along who teaches children more effectively, or does a better job leading small groups, or is a more effective worship leader, or writes better blog posts, or plays drums better. That’s why it’s crucial for us to cultivate John’s attitude of humility now.

We exist to glorify Christ. If someone else can do it better, let them. Let’s rejoice when others surpass us spiritually. God will be glorified and we’ll be filled with joy.

+photo by dariuszka

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