I have only ever had the honor of being best man at a wedding once. Truth be told it is the only time I would have wanted that particular honor in my life. That day (and in the build up to it) I got stand beside my best friend, who I had known for 20 years, and make sure that he did not have anything whatsoever to worry about or think about aside of marrying his love, and enjoying his day. From the moment he asked me to do the job until the very end of that great and happy day, I was devoted completely to the task. For that day it was all about him and very little about me. What gave me joy during that time was to see the joy in my best friends experience of getting married
In this second half of John 3, John the Baptist is making a similar testimony. John’s disciples had had a dispute about “ceremonial washing” and afterwards they came to John to report that this same person was now baptizing people – and the people were flocking to him. In response, John calmly reminded his disciples that his ministry was not about how many people flocked to him for baptism – rather he was like the friend of the bridegroom at a wedding. For John, there is no joy in merely attracting people to be baptized. Rather, John experiences joy in hearing the voice of the bridegroom. John’s joy is made complete in the fact that his ministry is not about his own popularity and acceptance by others – his ministry is about pointing to the light; the true light who has come into the world to give light to everyone. Because John’s ministry is about pointing to the Christ he can say with full conviction that he himself must become less so that the bridegroom (Christ) can become more.
It seems that more and more these days our culture is saturated and consumed with an unhealthy obsession with self. Everything that we read, watch and listen to points us to looking after number one. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are all slammed full with “selfies.” In fact the “Selfie Stick” was the highest selling gift of Christmas 2014! The idea of us decreasing so that something or someone else might increase is all but absent from our western existence, but John the Baptist is consumed by the notion, and John, the author of this gospel, is consumed in these early chapters with getting this notion across to his readers. John wants us to be in no doubt that the Chosen one of God has come into the world, has the power to transform, and is calling humans to walk in a new way. John the Baptist got that. John the author wants you and me to get that too.
Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the lectionary year. On this Sunday each year we declare the Kingship of Christ to be the supreme kingship to which we must bow the knee of our lives in total surrender. In declaring loyalty, allegiance, love and devotion to the Christ the King we are saying that Christ and his mission must increase, and to that end we must each be willing to decrease.
Will you make that the statement of your life today? Will you live a life that points completely to Christ and Christ’s mission, and which ultimately states to the world that Christ must increase and we must decrease? I believe that this is the call of this passage today.
May it be so.