Decreasing...So Christ Can Increase


John 3: 22-36

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized. John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”
John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

Decreasing...So Christ Can Increase 

Have you ever gone to a pastors’ conference and shortly after introducing yourself and conversing with one another, a pastor turns and asks, “How big is your church?” It is interesting how we can be so competitive even in the church. What will some Christians argue about to make their own church, religious group or their own personal practice of the Christian life seem so superior to that of other Christians.

Here we see the disciples of John the Baptist apparently upset that “everyone” is going to Jesus, and by implication not coming to them as they did before. Yet even they use that significant phrase “the one to whom you have borne witness”  to describe Jesus. Here John has a teaching moment and reiterates that he was not the Messiah, and his ministry was not his own; it has been a gift from God and he was the one who pointed to “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” Jesus, the Messiah. For his part, John wanted to be faithful to what he had been called to do, and now having prepared the way, it was time to get out of the way. He emphasized that “It is necessary for him (Jesus) to increase and for me to decrease.” John’s humility shines through.

Friends, this is our Lenten lesson in humility. We who equip others must learn that we need to get out of the way so that men and women and young people can fulfill their calling. We are to point to Jesus Christ and allow him to do his work.


May the gifts of God well up within us equipping us to point those around us to Jesus, the Savior. Amen.

Rev. Deryck Sonaram is pastor of the Lewistown UMC, Illinois River District.