John the Baptist was in the national spotlight. If paparazzi had been around, we’d undoubtedly have some photos of him. He lived in the wilderness, seeming to enjoy being alone instead of being surrounded by people. He never followed current fashions or diets. The Bible says, “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” (Matthew 3:4). In spite of all this, crowds flocked to him to listen to his preaching and to be baptized by him.
Maybe six months into John’s popularity, Jesus approached him to be baptized. A couple months later, Jesus also began to preach, and larger crowds came to hear Him. Jesus was preaching, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) Those that did repent of their sin were baptized by some of the men who had become regular followers of His.
Some of John’s disciples were miffed that John’s crowds were dwindling, while Jesus’ crowds were expanding. They felt that John deserved to be in the spotlight. But John wasn’t upset in the least. He wasn’t the least bit jealous. When asked by his followers why he wasn’t upset, he said, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:29–30). Like a groomsman in a wedding, he is happy that his friend is getting married. He wants the focus to be on the groom and not on him. John saw himself as being the friend and Jesus being the Groom.
John never sought the spotlight. His purpose was to introduce Jesus to the world. He was the “voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’” (Matthew 3:3) In the same way that our President sends people ahead to prepare a town for his arrival, John arrived on the scene ahead of Jesus in order to prepare people for His arrival.
John’s response to his disciples displayed the secret of the successful Christian life and the secret of contentment, “the Lord must become greater; I must become less.” In everything we face, every circumstance of our lives, we should seek to follow John’s advice of taking a back seat so Jesus can drive.
All Christ-followers have a similar assignment to that of John. Fortunately, we don’t have to dress weird or eat bugs like he did. Our similar assignment is to introduce others to Jesus. We may not all be evangelists, but we are to use our influence with others to whet their appetite for the Lord. Here’s a prayer you can pray to that end: “Lord, please help me today to make this day more about You than me.”