The Deeper Truths of Jesus: The Gospel According to John (1-4:42)
Cody John Simpson
- It’s a ruthless world when everyone watches out only for their own and not for others. That’s a world defined by pride and self-advancement, and as we’ll see in our passage today, that not only sets us up against one another it actually sets us up against God. The good news is that He has a radically opposite way to live that He wants us to step into.
- John 3:22-30
- Context – both groups baptizing. A dispute brings up Jesus’ growing ministry in comparison to JtBs’, and this bothers them.
- These disciples of JtB have a worldly perspective of protecting and growing what’s theirs.
- V27 – “No one receives anything unless it has been given by God.”
- John, contrasted from his disciples, doesn’t see his ministry as really his own. In other words it is not a product of his own skill or greatness, it is not his to ultimately keep and grow and direct as he sees fit. He is not the boss.
- John understands that all we have (namely his ministry here) is from God.
- Jesus’ Messianic ministry is from God the Father. We’ll see throughout the John’s gospel that Jesus is sent by the Father, under the direction of the Father: John 6:38
- As is true with Jesus so it is with John: John’s ministry as Jesus’ forerunner, and the success of that ministry was not a product of John’s creation but God’s providence.
- John sees God at work in the growing movement of Jesus and the diminishment of his own ministry. V28 shows his ready acceptance of this fact.
- V29 shows that John actually rejoices over this. He likens himself as Jesus’ best man and desires to see the wedding of Jesus and His people. John wants all the attention to fall on Jesus (uses common OT symbols here).
- V30 – A well known and memorable passage. This again shows John’s acceptance of his smaller ministry position in comparison to Jesus, but carries it into the future. What his own disciples are fearing in the present John assures them of in the future, but with recognition of its necessity and with joy.
- I want to thrust this story into the present. It is so easy to see this as two competing churches. Looking into that situation we would rush in to say stop fighting, you’re on the same team, don’t let pride turn you against the other. What we’re promoting is called Kingdom-mindedness:
- I said earlier we’re all the bosses of our own lives in this world. We’re going from bosses to kings. We’re all kings and queens. In this case the smaller ministry pastor, upset at the success of another’s church, is in reality viewing his church as his kingdom (it’s his life project). But really he should be serving God’s Kingdom which encompasses both churches, and he should accept his role within the larger picture.
- We make that mistake in our own lives – fixating on what we want, whatever terms of success we’re aiming for and we ignore what God is doing around us, what He is ordaining for our lives (the blessings and the denials). We get caught up in saying what we want and not asking what God wants. The result, as we have experienced, is fear, anger, resentment, bitterness, envy, etc. All pretty bad things.
- Contrast that with the joy of John the Baptist, as his life’s work grows smaller.
- How can we get in on JtB’s secret here? Let’s return to v30. He must increase but I must decrease. We can take this maxim another way. The world needed John to decrease and Jesus to increase. Jesus not John is the Saviour of the world through which we are redeemed and reconciled to God.
- Jesus’ death on the cross would be the sacrifice made to atone for all of our sin and brokenness, and in believing in Jesus, His death and resurrection, God forgives us and comes into our lives to transform us. Just as Jesus increased in the world, He can also increase in our hearts.
- The Christian life is a battle between our old self and its desire to rebel against God and our new self that desires to obey God. This new self is made in the image of Jesus, and as we grow this “Jesus-infused self” grows while the other diminishes. The more we decrease and the more Christ increases in us, the more we can partner with God in our lives, humbly accept His providence and not turn others into our enemies over envy and competition.
- Now I don’t mean to say that we no longer work hard, pursue goals and fight for them, build and dream big. But the boss has changed. The kingdom has changed. We don’t live for our own success and glory, we aren’t building a legacy or kingdom of our own. We fight and work just as hard (dare I say harder) because we are serving God – building His Kingdom and pursuing His goals.
- When God is in charge we are free to go wherever He directs us, without the bitterness and anger about where we are in conjunction with others. Life isn’t a competition when we’re all just living the life God ordains.
- We’re called to be content and overjoyed at seeing God at work around us like JtB, and we can only do that when we truly live every detail acknowledging that God is our King.
What area of life are you most protective over? Ask God to loosen your grip on this and to accept whatever plan God has for you.