Lenten Reader | Day 7

I Must Become Less

They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”

John 3:26-30
Benjamin Franklin famously claimed that in this world nothing can be certain but death and taxes. I will take the liberty to add one more – I will NEVER be mistaken for the Messiah. Indeed, most of us will never have that problem. Yet this is, quite possibly, the very situation John the Baptist found himself in.  
Can we admit that being recognized by others for achievements feels good? Successes in work and community; praise for being outstanding parents and accomplishments. Our culture admires and rewards those who "get it done" and climb the ladder of success, often holding  them in reverence as awe-inspiring people for their abilities and status. It is even magnified now to be an internet influencer with 10,000 followers garnering instant fame for knowing how to properly apply makeup or play difficult guitar chords.  
If anyone could claim status as an equal of Jesus, it was John the Baptist - an influencer of his era. It appears his followers were reluctant for him to yield to the "new guy" baptizing. Was he tempted to claim the title of Messiah? We don't know. It does, however, indicate that as soon as his disciples realized that crowds were now gathering around Jesus, they pointed this out to him. He immediately and without hesitation vanquished any notion that his disciples may have had to consider him superior or equal to Jesus. He immediately acknowledged Jesus as Messiah, the one sent by God; that his only role was to prepare the way for Jesus' ministry. He joyfully became less so Jesus could become greater.  
Can we use John as our model to always understand our role as Christians? When others may want to lift us up as wonderful, successful, or powerful, can we, even in small ways, remember why we have what we do? It is because God has allowed it and blessed us. We should, like John, relinquish any idea of power or superiority over our creator and immediately, without hesitation, point to Jesus as the one who gets the credit and praise.  
Jeff Tatman