March 27, 2011

John Testifies Again About Jesus

John 3:22-36

"After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 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.”

27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 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. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” NIV


I’ve tried to watch a few times but invariably have to back away. Even terminal boredom from an empty docket fails to provide enough oomph to goad me through an entire episode. From the snippets I have endured, however, Bridezilla is a reality show about brides adamant that all wedding plans concentrate on her. Everyone else, family, friends, hired wedding personnel, and even the groom himself, are second to her and at her beckon call, no questions asked. Whenever the spotlight drifts away, she pitches a fit until she’s once again the center of attention. It’s a distressing commentary that’s much too sad for me to watch. (If you watch it don't feel bad, you're just stronger for the topic.)

My husband, a professional photographer, says his most miserable bride was one insatiably consumed with how she looked. Unable to meet her own impossible standards, this treasured time was polluted with her dismal self-centered attitude. While he nearly always comes home with amusing stories of each marriage celebration, this event was most glum as he helplessly watched her sabotage the day.

Brides aren’t the only ones temped to miss the heart of a matter. We, as the bride of Christ, can stray from focus as well. Take Simon the Sorcerer for example. “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money saying, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:18-19

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Verse 13 tells us that Simon of Samaria believed and was baptized. For all we know his confession of faith was genuine at the time, but being a bit of a Bridezilla himself, giving up the spotlight proved more than he could handle. He wasn't totally off the wall either because according to verses 9-11 he had a lot to give up,

“Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery.”

Simon had a corner office in the highest building in the city and wasn’t open for a downgrade. Using money to motivate the duo, he proposed a two-fold option to Peter and John designed to grant him a godly gift that would make him even more rich and popular. As a third party reader it all sounds too awful to comprehend, but how many times have we, the bride of Christ, attempt to embezzle honor that is rightfully God's? I don't know how many times the Lord has convicted my heart as I marvel at the talent of a Christian teacher or musician rather than the message He was conveying through them. Yes, they are great but He is the focus, never the talent in which He bestows. Then there are the legions of times I’ve attempted to pilfer a few kudos off work I’ve done for Him, failing to discern the Christian Brizedilla stirring in my own heart. Oh the shameful truth of it all. Please tell me you can relate.

The more I learn about John the Baptist the more I admire this last great Old Testament prophet. Paving the way for a new era in God's kingdom, he is truly one of a kind and as much as I've pondered all the men and women of the Bible, I still cannot come up with one more humble than this great forerunner. Many were humbled, but John was genuine from his inception. Having every reason to be seriously puffed with pride, he became less so that Christ could become greater. It convicts and comforts me all in one swoop and I can't wait to meet John in heaven one day. I don't know what he looks like but I'm pretty sure I know where to find him, at the foot of the throne where he's no doubt most comfortable.


As a member of the bride of Christ, do you suffer from any Bridezillian tendencies?

Name one area in your life where Christ must become greater and you must become smaller.

Like Simon the Sorcerer, have you ever attempted to bribe God for a personal gift or ability? What has been His response to your request?

Take a moment to thank God for our privileged position as His beautiful bride! May we live up to the position each day and in every way.

1 comment:

Cheryl Barker said...

I'm afraid I can relate, Nancy. Pride is something I battle way too often. It's there before I know it. I try to recognize and renounce it immediately, but I'm sure looking forward to that day (in heaven!) where it won't nag at me any more!