Advent Devotional Day 19 – John the Baptist

Silence: Take a moment to get still and ask God to center your heart on him.

Scripture: 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

Devotional: John the Baptist seems like the uncle you’re not really sure you should be hanging out with, but at the same time is incredibly cool.

The Scriptures say that he was kind of weird dude. Well, it doesn’t say that specifically, but it does say that his clothing was made of camel’s hair, his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey, and he was a fire breathing preacher. Quite the character to say the least.

Isaiah prophesied about John. “As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Luke 3:4 alluding to Isaiah 40:3).

Despite John being a little crazy he’s one of my favorite characters in all of the Bible. I like John because his life motto was a motto that we should all embrace as Christians – “He must increase, but I must decrease”. 

I love the way one of the commentaries describes John’s role. “At this point in salvation history, now that the light has come, the “lamp” has done its work (John 5:35).” 

We are not the light of the world. Jesus is the light of the world. We are simply pointing people to the light. In the time of John, before Jesus’ ministry had started, he was the lamp that preparing the way for the Lord. However, when Jesus’ ministry began he slipped into the background and out of the spotlight.

I’ll never forget when my pastor told all of us that we should be humble donkeys. Confused? Let me explain. When Jesus came into Jerusalem he was celebrated by the people and riding on a donkey. As my pastor was preaching this passage he talked about how foolish it would be if the donkey stood up to receive the applause of the people. Foolish, right? However, this is what so many of us do when we try to play the role of main character in God’s story.

Instead, we should be humble donkeys! I know that it’s a little ridiculous, but I love the image. We should be living our lives pointing people to the power and person of Jesus Christ. All of us play supporting roles in the story of God while he’s in the spotlight.

I love the quote from worship artist Todd Agnew, “In my life and in my study of the Bible, I have often misinterpreted the meaning. I have misunderstood the plot because I have misplaced the characters. My life is not a story about me, it’s a story about God that has me as a character and my life as part of the plot.”

Christmas is a good time to recenter our minds on the truth that this life we’re living is a story about God with us as supporting characters, not the other way around.

This Christmas let our collective voice cry out, “He must increase, we must decrease.” and let us put the characters of the story in the right place.

Question: How could you “decrease” yourself and “increase” Christ in your life this upcoming year?

Action: Spend some time praying that God would show you areas of pride that are keeping you from decreasing and ask that he give you ideas on how you can “increase” Christ in your life this year.

Prayer: God, thank you for the example John the Baptist set for us. You truly are the main character of the story we’re all living. I pray that you show me that there will be more joy when I play a supporting role and let you take the spotlight. Help me to embrace the motto – “He must increase, but I must decrease” – this upcoming year.

 

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