Read: John 3:22-36
Consider: The incident recounted in today’s reading from John 3 is an insight into human nature. John the Baptist was continuing to baptise people who came to him at Aenon near Salim. We are told that a disagreement arose between John disciples and a ‘certain’ Jew (John 3:25) over the matter of ceremonial washing. We are not told the name of the Jew, nor are we made aware of the exact nature of the disagreement. It could be that the Jew was of the opinion that the baptism being offered by John (and Jesus) did not meet the exacting standards demanded for ceremonial washing. This might have led him to the opinion that the baptism being offered could not be effective in cleansing the person. This, however, is not the issue the disciples raised with John. In John 3:26 we read: 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 baptising, and everyone is going to him.’ Can you sense what is going on here?
John’s disciples seem to be less concerned about Jesus being the promised Messiah and more about Jesus’ growing popularity. They were obviously envious of what Jesus was doing and that ‘… everyone is going to him’ (3:26). Perhaps they even expected John to rise to this and also be envious of Jesus. John displays a spiritual insight the disciples were unable to see. John tells his disciples that whatever popularity Jesus has is God-given (3:27) and he reinforces what he had said previously about his own role in heralding in the coming of the Messiah. John then says something that gives great insight into his character. He says: He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30).
Let me ask you a very blunt question. Have you ever been jealous or envious of someone else’s success? Perhaps you are involved in ministry and you see the success of another pastor’s teaching ministry; are you prone to envy? Maybe you are involved in secular employment; do you easily accept the rising star, someone who you think gains promotion too easily? Having the ability to be happy about another person’s success will only come when you are able to see God’s hand at work in every aspect of your life.
Pray: Father, give us the ability to see your guiding hand at work in every part of our lives. Keep our hearts free from envy and may we be happy about others’ success. Amen