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Weekly Bible Study
“John the Baptist's Perspective on Ministry”
by Hugh Davidson   
December 23rd, 2007

John 3:27-36 “John answered and said, a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

Here, John the apostle tells us what John the Baptist’s perspective was on the ministry and then he also reminds us of our own as well. And what he’s doing here is taking us all back to the basics by saying, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him by heaven.” And what he was saying was, that if the crowds come, then God sent them and if they go away then God led them some where else. John certainly wasn’t concerned about the size of his following or what was going to happen next.

This wasn’t a lazy man’s excuse for failure but it was the perspective of one who had a firm understanding of the sovereignty of God. He saw himself as one who was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah and not be the leader of a denominational empire. And not only that, but he also wanted his disciples to know that the former success they had enjoyed in terms of great crowds and social influence was the work of God and not that of themselves.

And then John reminded them that he wasn’t the Messiah because in verse 29 he says, “he rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegrooms voice” and this can also be translated to mean that he rejoiced with joy or he rejoiced to the full. And so, what he was telling us was that there was nothing in this world that could make him happier than hearing the voice of Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus had come to pay for his sins as well as ours and He was the only way that John or any of the rest of us could ever get to heaven. So, as far as John was concerned, his purpose in life was fulfilled when people followed Jesus rather than himself or anybody else.

John the Baptist’s role is our role which is to point people to the Lord Jesus Christ. And in order to fulfill our calling we need to have and demonstrate the same kind of humility that he had. Now, if you’re still with me you’re probably saying to yourself, “Acting like John the Baptist isn’t exactly one of my goals for the coming week” and although that may be true, I believe that the attitude John demonstrated in his ministry will help all of us in our work, our marriages and all the rest of our relationships.

Now, here’s the key to John’s humility. He knew that everything he had, he received from God and everything he did was ordained by God. And if we could keep this as our focus none of us would have any problems with pride.

I like how John takes this a step further by describing himself as the friend of the bridegroom and this would be the equivalent of being the best man today except that the friend of the bridegroom had a lot more responsibilities. For instance, he arranged the wedding, delivered the invitations and then presided over the reception and then, after the wedding he guarded the bridal chamber to make sure that no false lover entered in. And after the bridegroom came he went on his way rejoicing because he knew his responsibilities were fulfilled. And John the Baptist told his people, that’s my job. I’m not here to have everyone loyal to me but to have everyone loyal to Jesus.

And then he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” And what he was telling them was, I’ve got to fade into the background so people will focus their attention on the Lord. And when you think about it, it would be a pretty strange wedding if all the attention was focused on the best man rather than the bride and groom. So, knowing his place John was more than happy to take a back seat.

I believe that John the Baptist was the most humble man who ever lived and the problem most of us have with that is we misunderstand the quality of humility. We tend to think of a humble person as one with a shy personality and poor posture when in fact such a person could be the most conceited person alive. Humility isn’t someone who lacks a backbone but it’s someone who has one with the right attitude.

How do we have the right attitude? First, recognize that any position or possession we have comes from God. Second, Paul tells us in Romans 12:3 that we are to think soberly when it comes to spiritual gifts. In other words, we need to realize that if any things happens through us then it’s because God is working in us. And never forgot the old saying, “Conceit is a condition that makes everybody sick except the person who has it.” And then third, we also need to realize that true humility isn’t found by seeing ourselves as being less than we are but by seeing ourselves what we’re supposed to be in relationship to Jesus Christ.

Just think, when we get to heaven we’ll have the opportunity to meet people like John the Baptist and I think we’ll find other people like him who were a lot like ourselves except some of them were willing to totally surrender their lives to serve the Lord. So, what do you think? Is Jesus who gave all to save you, asking too much to have you share the message of salvation, so that others might be saved as well?

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