Monday, June 8, 2020
Have you ever heard of competitive baptisms? It is quite possible that some of you have strong opinions about baptism, and take some level of pride in yours based on what church did it and what person baptized you. There was the potential for a three-way competition in this week’s Scripture passage in John 3:22-36. Let’s look at the first few verses.
John 3:22-24 “After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).”
After Jesus met with Nicodemus and explained the fundamentals of entrance into the Kingdom of God, He and the disciples took a road trip out to the Judean countryside. When they arrive at their destination, Jesus begins baptizing people. Meanwhile, in another location, John the Baptizer is also baptizing people. Some Jews, who also practiced baptism, got into a debate with followers of John the Baptist. They asked John to settle the debate. But rather than debate the fundamental theology of baptism, John simply declares that all of the attention of spiritual life needs to be on Jesus. Finding value in religious rituals no longer mattered. Taking pride in one’s particular theological perspective no longer mattered. Defending one’s denominational organization was a waste of energy and breath. All that matters is Jesus.
In one of the most profound statements ever made by any human being, John the Baptizer settles the argument over the purpose of baptism with one statement: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
No matter what the size of his following, or the personal acclaim he was receiving, or the influence he was having, John withdrew so that Jesus could be glorified.
Are you seeking to be noticed, or even honored, for your great theology or religious activity? Do you take pride in your participation in your church’s sacraments? Do you spiritually place yourself above others because of what you believe? Take note. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, let everything go and got out of the way so only Jesus could be seen. Please consider the consequences of not doing the same.