He must increase ∙

He must increase

He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30

John 3:27-32

 27 John replied, No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.

 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, “I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for Him.”

 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.

 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

 31 He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth and speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.

 32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them!

When asked which instrument was the most difficult to play, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, did not hesitate in his response: “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but finding someone who can play second fiddle enthusiastically is a problem, and if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”

As any musician knows the importance of each instrument in an orchestra. Each contributes to the overall harmony. The finest musician in each orchestra section occupies the first chair. However, no triumphant harmony can exist without those playing second, third, and fourth chairs.

The Father assigned John the Baptist the role of playing second fiddle. John’s job was to work himself out of a job. He was the forerunner; he came to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. He humbly accepted this role as the forerunner, working diligently to fulfill his purpose and pave the way for the Savior’s arrival.

John was chosen by the Father to bear witness to the coming of His Son, and he embraced his responsibilities with fervor and dedication.

As an ascetic, John lived in the desert and maintained a strict paleo diet of locusts and wild honey. John’s message was fiery and demanded a response. He called on people to repent of their sins before the day of judgment. With forceful language, John condemned sin in all forms and urged his listeners to turn their hearts toward God.

He was dynamic and drew large crowds. Who gathered to hear John’s message? Soldiers, tax collectors, leaders, those that were well-off, and of course, ordinary people. Those in his audience often had great power, influence, and wealth. He told people repeatedly to share with the needy, be honest, and be content.

John announced the imminent arrival of the promised Messiah of Israel. He fiercely warned of the judgment to come. He warned that it was not enough to know about the God of Israel and be a descendant of Abraham. Each individual was strongly exhorted to perform a personal inventory, literally have “a come to Jesus moment,” and be forgiven and enter into a personal relationship with the Father through the Son.

John proclaimed the imminent arrival of the long-awaited Messiah of Israel and delivered a stark warning of the judgment to come. He emphasized that merely having knowledge of the God of Israel or being a descendant of Abraham was not enough. Each person needed to take a personal inventory and have a transformative moment of reckoning with God, seeking forgiveness, and entering into a personal relationship with the Father through the Son.

John called on individuals to turn their hearts towards God in true repentance. The shaken crowds were left asking, “what shall we do?” John’s response is encapsulated in one word, Repent!

How does this compare to what is frequently taught from the pulpit in modern times? A cynic once said, “People come to church today expecting very little and seldom go away disappointed.”


Finding contentment in the background and learning to be at peace in the shadows brings a deep sense of joy and fulfillment to those who are children of the King.

Father thank You for bringing me to a “come to Jesus moment.” Now I know You face-to-face. Encourage me to walk with You daily and get to know You better.


John accepted his position as number two with elegance and grace. There is no room or need for competition (John 3:27). All opportunities, along with our skills, gifts, and experience, come from the Father. He knew full well that all service and blessing come from the Father.

John the Baptist knew he was not the Messiah, but rather, he was the friend and forerunner of the Messiah. John self-described his role as the friend of the bridegroom.

The bridegroom’s friend, the shoshben, is similar to the best man at a wedding in American culture. In first-century Jewish weddings, the best man held a unique role. He was responsible for making all the wedding arrangements, sending out invitations, and serving as the host of the wedding feast. Moreover, his duty was to bring the bride and groom together and safeguard the bridal chamber.

Once the best man had fulfilled his duties and brought the bride and groom together, he waited outside the bridal chamber to hear the bridegroom’s voice when the bride dropped her veil for the first time. It is easy to imagine the bridegroom exclaiming, “How lovely!” The best man could then depart with joy and satisfaction, knowing that his mission was accomplished and the lovers were together (Barclay).

John the Baptist had no identity crisis. He understood his role as the best man in the wedding of Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ. His sole responsibility was to bring the bride and the bridegroom together, and when he accomplished that, he joyfully stepped back and faded out of the picture.

John arranged the marriage between the Lord Jesus Christ and Israel, bringing them together. Once they were united, he considered his task complete and was content to fade into the background. When John said that Jesus must increase and he must decrease, he did so with joy, not envy (Barclay).

Sometimes we would do well to remember, as children of the King, that it is not our purpose to draw people to ourselves. Instead, we are to draw them to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We should seek to inspire loyalty to the Father and His Son, not to ourselves (Wiersbe).

A Presbyterian pastor in Melbourne, Australia, introduced J. Hudson Taylor using many superlatives, especially the word great. Taylor stepped to the pulpit and quietly said, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.” If John the Baptist in heaven heard that statement, he must have shouted, “Hallelujah!”

It is far better to humbly play second fiddle in the Father’s orchestra than to refuse to play at all. John understood his calling and was fully committed to his mission. He did not seek personal glory or accolades but was content to fulfill the role assigned to him by the Father. Jesus, Himself said that among those born of women, no one was greater than John (Luke 7:28).

¯\_()_/¯ 1-17-1

© Dr. H 2023

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