A Brief Meditation for the Month

March 2018

John the Baptist was an outstanding individual, to whom the Lord Jesus paid tribute, stating that he was “more than a prophet,” and “Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.” (Matt. 11:9&10). This is truly high commendation from the one who knows the hearts of all men; who never spoke less than the truth. Indeed, before John was even born, Zacharias his father was informed by the angel of the Lord, “he shall be great in the sight of the Lord.” (Luke 1:15).

John’s own estimation of himself however, was somewhat different. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to inquire of him as to who he thought he was — “What sayest thou of thyself?” John replied, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” (John 1:19-23). Although John was aware of the importance of his mission as the forerunner of the Messiah, he never lost sight of his own inferiority to his Lord. He was content just to be a voice speaking for God. In addition, he openly acknowledged his unworthiness in comparison to his Saviour, identifying Jesus as “He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” (John 1:27). When on another occasion the Jews were speaking to John of the apparent popularity of Jesus, saying “all men come to him,” implying that the appeal of John’s ministry was on the wane, while the crowds were turning to Jesus, John responded in the meekest terms, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:26-30). What a beautiful portrait of John! He was happy to disappear from the picture as he witnessed his Lord and master receive the attention. Even although he had his own disciples, who followed him like any Rabbi at the time, he was glad to be able to direct them away from himself to the Christ. In fact, we read that on a certain day John did just this when he testified before two of his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Upon this testimony, we are informed, “the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” (John 1:35-37).

How unlike John some of God’s children are who have a problem with that ancient idol called “self.” There is little or no increase of Christ, or Christlikeness, seen in their lives because of their huge egos, which erase the beauty of Christ from view. In the case of John; it was either he who would increase, or Jesus would increase. With him however, there was no spirit of competition; no “me first” attitude. He was pleased to know that men were turning to the Saviour, who could do for them, what he could never do.

Let us remember that the terms of Christian discipleship are made clear by the Saviour when he says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24). Self-denial is not a welcomed doctrine in our contemporary society, but it is evidence of genuine devotion to Christ. All professing Christians need to look for the evidence in their daily lives, that the beauty and grace of Christ is increasing, as they become ever less preoccupied with self and its interests. Therefore, let the attitudes and actions of every new day in our lives testify, to our desire that Christ would be seen to increase, while we decrease. My dear reader, let Christ have all the glory, not just because of your justification, but also through your sanctification. Make sure Christ is always first.

G. G. Hutton