That portion of the Holy Scriptures contains my favorite verses, John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
That portion of the Holy Scriptures contains the single passage that I remember in my call to the Gospel ministry, John 9:4-5, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
That portion of the Holy Scriptures is written in an easy flowing language of John 1:1, which sometimes confuses us with its simplicity, telling of the birth of Jesus in a non-traditional way. That portion of the Holy Scriptures gives us Jesus’ Final Discourse expounded over a number of chapters.
That portion of the Holy Scriptures also tells us of a man named John, the baptizer, predecessor of Jesus, cousin of Jesus, and last of the great prophets in line with Jeremiah, Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets. I like John, the baptizer, because he also reminds me about a person’s importance before our living God. John did not want to claim notoriety or success on his own. He always linked himself to the reason he was placed on this earth – Jesus was coming and he “was preparing the way,” that is opening our lives to what God intended to do for all of humankind.
In John 3:26-30, he tells us that he was not important in the overall scheme of things, he was only a minor character in the revelation of the Messiah, the bridegroom, the redeemer of the world. When asked he says, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Yes, John does not toot his horn for the numbers who came out to the Jordan to be baptized by him, or even that he baptized the beloved of God. With humility that we need to exemplify, he reminds us that the Christ will be lifted up and he will decrease in popularity and esteem. On Thursday, June 24, we can celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus and the man who Jesus proclaims as the Greatest Prophet. What an honor for someone who spoke humbly of his small part in the salvation of the world.
May we, too, be bold enough to state that we do not need to be lifted up! We need to lift up the one who gives us life everlasting.