“There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light” (John 1:6-8; all Scripture quotations are from the NASB1995).
John’s Gospel introduces Jesus as the Word of God and the Light of the world. A summary of John the Baptist’s ministry interrupts this introduction. John the Baptist served a significant role in God’s plan of redemption. He was the Messiah’s forerunner, the last prophet of the Old Testament era, and the prophet who paved the way for Jesus to introduce the New Testament.
The apostle emphasized that John the Baptist was not the Light. Jesus is the true Light of the world (John 8:12). Nevertheless, He would tell His disciples that we—His followers—are also the light of the world:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
As I shared in a previous article, the Christian becomes the light of the world by reflecting Jesus’ light to others. That was John the Baptist’s role: He was not the light of the world, but his ministry pointed people’s attention to the true Light, the coming Messiah, Jesus. John’s job was to point others to Jesus, to testify that He was coming soon, and to preach a message of repentance so that they would be ready to believe in Christ.
John the Baptist knew his role. He knew that Jesus deserved more honor.
“John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me”’” (John 1:15).
Later, as his popularity dwindled, some of his disciples left him to follow Jesus. In response, he would say, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). His job was to point people to Jesus. Once they started following Jesus, his work was finished. It was time for him to disappear from the limelight.
While John the Baptist was Jesus’ forerunner, he was also an example for all who would follow Christ. We, too, must decrease so that Jesus’ presence, power, and prominence may increase in our lives and spheres of influence. Sometimes, Christians want to build our own little kingdoms when we should advance the kingdom of God: “This is my church, my ministry, or my blog. I must make sure more people know who I am so that they can hear my message.”
That is how a fallen world thinks. It is not a very Christian attitude. We must decrease. Like John the Baptist, we need to keep pointing to Jesus. We need to testify about how Jesus has changed our lives and, more importantly, what He has done to bring salvation to all who will believe in Him. We have to glorify Him so that others will praise, worship, and follow Him. We must live in such a way that people will come to know Jesus through us.
Let us take the spotlight off of ourselves and shine it on Jesus, so that those we meet may follow Him.
What are some ways that you have been able to shine the light of Jesus to others? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.
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