He Must Increase
Pastor Dominic Cardamone
In the first part of John 3:30 are some of the simplest yet most profound words uttered by John the Baptist. He said, “He must increase.” Of course, he is speaking of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ must increase! What does it mean for Christ who is God to increase? That would seem impossible, for He is all in all and perfection. I suggest it points to the increase of His propagation and impact among people through the agency of His disciples. This is what must grow. He must increase in and through us. Christ must be made to loom large in every facet of our lives and the same be encouraged in the lives of others with whom we come in contact. It’s the young children learning in Sunday school that they didn’t evolve from a monkey but from the creator God. It’s the teenager being made to understand by a loving mentor that she is special in the sight of God and that God has a purpose and plan for her life. It’s the man and woman learning that Christ and His Word is the compass for navigating through the complexities of marriage, parenting, work, friendships, etc. and applying those truths to their lives. This was the principle by which John lived and was trying to instill in his disciples. It is the principle by which every child of God should live.
The increase of Christ in our lives can be problematic because it is an assault on our pride. We like our lives to be about us. However, God wants our lives to be about Him. In this passage, the disciples of John were complaining to John that Jesus’ ministry was growing, His disciples were baptizing, and that people were flocking to them. This concern seems to have been spurred by a confrontation John’s disciples had with antagonistic Jews. John’s disciples were perhaps arguing that their purification (represented in their baptism) was superior to all others. The Jews were perhaps arguing the same, that the purifying used among themselves in the law of Moses and in the traditional ritualism was superior. Perhaps the Jews even made the case that John’s ministry was dwindling. The argument was if John’s purification was superior to the Jews’ then why was even Jesus (this no-name, new preacher in the eyes of the Jews) and His disciples surpassing them?
This was probably a tough pill for the disciples of John to swallow. John and his disciples had experienced a prolific ministry leading up to the public ministry of Christ. Now, they were no longer as popular. Their ministry indeed had diminished. The crowds were smaller and the attention on their ministry was less. This was troubling to the disciples of John. In verse 26, they go to John and essentially accuse Jesus of being presumptuous. After all, Jesus was with John and baptized by John at the Jordan River, and John bore witness of Him (perhaps suggesting that Jesus owes His fame to John…although Jesus made it clear He didn’t need John’s witness, see John 5:36). Now Jesus’ followers are baptizing their own converts and, in turn, seemingly diminishing John and his disciples’ ministry. John had to help his disciples recalibrate. They were seeing it all wrong. We too need to recalibrate from time to time. The gauge of life is set too much on self and not enough on Christ.
John reminded his disciples (vs. 27-29) who he was and what his purpose was. Their ministry and its success were given to them of God. John was not the Christ but rather the forerunner of Christ and had been given the glorious calling to point people to Jesus. As with a friend of the bridegroom rejoicing at the joy and promotion of the groom, so it was with John. His greatest desire in ministry was for the promotion of his friend, Jesus. Jesus and His ministry were increasing and John couldn’t be happier about it. Are we thus minded? Let us remember who we are and what our purpose is as the friends of Jesus. Let us find fulfillment in the increase of Christ in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
The increase of Christ is a “must” as John put it. If Christ is not increasing, then something is amiss.