How about John the Baptist?
By Aisha Darwesh
The Word: John 3:22-26
22 Then Jesus and his disciples went out for a length of time into the Judean countryside where they baptized the people. 23 At this time John was still baptizing people at Aenon, near Salim, where there was plenty of water. And the people kept coming for John to baptize them. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.)
25 An argument then developed between John’s disciples and a particular Jewish man about baptism. 26 So they went to John and asked him, “Teacher, are you aware that the One you told us about at the crossing place—he’s now baptizing everyone with larger crowds than yours. People are flocking to him! What do you think about that?”
Today’s verses touch on a prevalent pandemic that can deeply affect one’s sense of self-worth and value–that is the constant proclivity to compare ourselves to others.
It happened in John the Baptist’s ministry and it’s happening today in modern society. Verse 26 states “so they went to John and asked him ‘Teacher, are you aware that the One you told us about at the crossing place–he’s now baptizing everyone with larger crowds than yours, People are flocking to him! What do you think about that?”
In later posts, you’ll see the beauty and simplicity of John’s response to the above question, but for today let’s dig deeper into John’s identity and role in relation to Jesus.
John preached a message of repentance. As a forerunner for Christ, his objective was to point people to Jesus. As the last of the Old Testament prophets, he understood his era was fading out and the glory of the New Covenant was breaking forth.
The Old Covenant consisted of the law and the prophets. The law established God’s standard for holy living, and the prophets established that people were not meeting those standards. So where did that leave people? Lost and utterly hopeless.
Enter Jesus. In John 1, John clearly identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John also identified himself as a “voice crying out in the wilderness.” John’s heart cry in the wilderness of sin and brokenness around him was for people to know and experience the spotless Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
This gives us a key insight that understanding our role and purpose in relation to God and to others will keep us from falling into the comparison trap. Paul talks about this in Corinthians:
There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy. You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; 26-27)
Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others? How does it make you feel? If you answered: inadequate, discontented, or envious, then chances are you need revelation on your identity and purpose in Christ.
It’s hard to appreciate the importance and uniqueness of others when you don’t appreciate your own importance and uniqueness. Begin to see yourself the way God sees you–as someone worth dying for. You are chosen and beloved. If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your eternity is secure in Him.
You can experience true joy and freedom by yielding to the Holy Spirit and walking in obedience to God. In seeking the Lord, you’ll find yourself. Then it won’t matter that larger crowds are drawn to this person or that because you’ll know that you have the love and attention of the One who matters most, your audience of One.
This week, begin to focus your attention on God. Magnify His nature and character and thank Him for who He is and all He’s done for you. Find satisfaction in His love. Rest in it and realize that nothing can separate you from His love.
Father God, I thank You for giving me life and opening my eyes to who You are. I pray that You would reveal more of Yourself to me as I walk out my faith day by day. Thank You for the gift of peace that comes with Your Presence. May You be glorified and lifted high in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.