The disciples of John the Baptist get a bit competitive on his behalf. They are upset that Jesus seems to be gaining more disciples than John – it seems counting people as a measure of success started early! But John the Baptist is having none of it. He is not persuaded to go the popularist route – you are always a prisoner to what people think. He understands that everything comes from God – success, failure, fame, obscurity…. “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” v27 Absolutely everything comes from God. We convince ourselves we are self-made people, working hard for what we have, making good choices. We forget that don’t choose where or when we are born or what family we are born into, which largely affects what we do and how we live. Life is a gift and John is content with his lot. John understands who he is in relation to Christ. “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” We do well to echo John’s words and mirror his humility.
- What started the rivalry between John’s disciples and Jesus?
- Is there anything intrinsically wrong with being popular?
- How does God’s wrath remain on those who reject Jesus? (v36)
- How would you feel if you were John the Baptist, heading up a shrinking ministry?
- It says “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” not “will have eternal life”. Is this use of the present tense important?
May we learn to see life as a gift and all things emanating from the hand of God.