John 3:22–36 (NKJV)
22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.John 3:22-26
25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
Jesus’ public ministry has begun, and He goes about the work for which the Father sent Him. This alarms the disciples of John, who saw him as their spiritual leader, and the beginnings of a turf war appear in their emotional response. John is faced with a crisis of integrity. Does He maintain His assertion that Jesus is truly the One to come, or does he exult in the adulation of his disciples and get caught up in a quest for dominance and fame?
27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”John 3:27-36
John responds with an immediate assertion of his humanity and his subordination to Christ. His very ministry is not of its own origin, but comes from God. He reminds them that he already said that he is not the Christ, but simply His forerunner. The image of the bridegroom is so very powerful. The bridegroom has the bride, but his friend rejoices to hear His voice. God, help us to have the joy of John as he stands and hears the Bridegroom speak! The most important advice John gives to his disciples is this: He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease. He is above all! Therefore, he or she would receives the Christ, hears His words, and believes in Him has everlasting life, but those who reject Him face the wrath of God. Believe the testimony of John and be saved.
One other poignant note is important to record here. Many ministers, preachers, singers, etc., have innate talents, gifts, abilities, or charisma that endear them to an adoring public. John was faced with this very dilemma. When a minister receives the support and adulation of their disciples, it can go to ones’ head and create a sense of self-worth that is inflated. This can lead to pride and a lack of dependence on or worship of God. Don’t let the praise of men inflate your ego. Stay grounded in your dependence on God. He is the source, we are the messengers. HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE! In that truth is true motivation for ministry.