Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Disciples as witnesses
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (V.:30)
The concurrent ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus provide the context for John’s disciples to complain about Jesus. However, John chooses this as an opportunity to renew his witness about Jesus, particularly, in the presence of his disciples who were reluctant in accepting Jesus the true Messiah.
John employs three different stages in answering his disciples’ complaint. Firstly, he uses an aphorism (V27) to correct their reading of the situation. This aphorism is another instance of words with double meaning. John’s proverbial words offer a general truth specific to his disciples’ complaint. That general truth is that a person can receive only what God gives to him or her. Yet this general truth also contains a truth specific to Jesus. A central theme throughout the fourth Gospel is that those who come to Jesus are given him by God, that what Jesus has is a gift from God.
Secondly, John testifies that he is secondary to Messiah. John thereby reminds his disciples that his own witness has anticipated the success of Jesus’ ministry.
Thirdly, John tells his disciples a parable-the parable of the bridegroom and his friends. Through this parable John teaches his disciples that how one person can rejoice at someone else’s joy. The friend of the bridegroom occupies an important position at a Jewish wedding; he takes care of all the wedding arrangements. Yet despite his prominence, the friend is always a secondary figure, because it is the bridegroom who is getting married, not the friend. The friend rejoices when he hears the bridegroom speak with the bride. John draws an explicit lesson from the parable; like the friend of the bridegroom, he is delighted with the greater response to Jesus. John settles the issue by giving a definitive response to his disciples, “He must increase, but I must decrease”.
John’s life and ministry was fully focused on one person, Jesus. He had no selfish interests. Rather, he served as a midwife to Jesus’ ministry, bearing witness to who Jesus was, opening people’s eyes to Jesus’ presence in their midst. Once Jesus’ ministry began, John’s ministry slowly disappeared. His witness was replaced by the witness of Jesus (Jon 3:32). John rejoiced in all that was happening about Jesus. In that sense John is also a model disciple, because the content of his witness looks beyond itself to the witness of Jesus.
Thought for the day: Like John, we must guard ourselves against all pride, self-centeredness and Greed and focus on the purpose of God in history through Jesus the Messiah. Only a true disciple will be able to rejoice in all what God does in history.
Prayer: Lord enable us to bear witness to your wonderful salvific deeds in history, without selfishness, pride and Prejudice, so that your name will be glorified through our witness.. Amen.Rev. Shibu P.V, Singapore MTC.