John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
There is a divine necessity indicated in the word “must.” These words of John the Baptist are spoken out of his own understanding of his relationship to Jesus. At this point his ministry and followers began to decrease because the followers of Jesus were increasing. He understood this and knew his own role in the bigger picture.
John’s disciples didn’t really like what they were seeing and they felt there was a rivalry developing between the ministry of John and that of Jesus. John refused to become envious because the divine necessity was in the forefront of his mind. He understood that Jesus “must” increase.
While this was a conversation about ministry, we also see the divine necessity in our own personal spiritual lives. It’s not that the nature of Jesus changes, that he becomes more than he already is, but that the space that he occupies in our lives increases. Our personal self interest and/or selfishness decreases as he increases in our lives. The result is freedom from envy and this becomes a crossing point in history. The old era is decreasing and giving voice to the new era of the Messiah. John’s response is one of joy as he declares the divine necessity of this change and recognizes the authority of Christ.
These words of John ought to be the mantra of every follower of Jesus Christ. The only problem is that we can get caught in the same emotions in which the disciples of John found themselves. They were struggling with envy. They had worked hard together with John and their ministry had been fruitful. Now, this new guy comes along and everything begins to change. They are no longer as popular as they had been and they are not sure what to do about it.
It’s easy to get caught up in envy and look at what is happening in the life of others. We wonder why things are happening for them and they don’t seem to be happening for us! This focus on self simply means that we are still large and in charge of our own lives. This scripture is a call for us to live into our relationship with Christ and allow him to radically transform us. We are to participate in fellowship with the holy Trinity and become so engaged that our self-centeredness eventually disappears in the will of God. His heart becomes our heart as we live into the divine necessity.
The “must” of this verse is central for it is necessary for us to grow spiritually. Following Christ is not a static adventure. If we refuse to grow, we will die.
Lord, thank you for the possibility of growing in you. Amen.
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