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


  • diane says:

    WOW! That hit me square between the eyes! Thank you so much for this post today.

  • I’d also like to add to my comment on the poll post… The way you guys write is very easy to relate to, while y’all emphasized knowing big words the other day, it still made sense and helped me actually understand what those words meant. :] Thanks for that and this post definitely reminded me about humility, I tend to forget about that virtue… =/


  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Diane – I’m glad the post was helpful for you. It’s always good when God’s word hits us between the eyes!

    Brittany – Thanks for your encouragement. It’s helpful to know that you find the posts easy to relate to. That’s our goal!

  • Hannah says:

    I really appreciated the comparison bteween stepping back to give a bridegroom the glory and our heart-attitude toward Christ. How convicting. Thank you for letting this blog be a tool of the Holy Spirit.

  • diane says:


    I wanted to let you know that I posted, on my blog, about your blog today! I hope that was okay. I directed the reader to your blog so they could read what you had to say about it!
    Again, thank you so much for yesterday’s message. God is really speaking to me through it.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Hannah – Thanks for your encouragement. Aren’t the word pictures in scripture great?

    Diane – I’m glad you shared the post! Feel free to share anything you want!

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