Humble Hero


“He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease”

This chapter is based on John 3:22-36.

If John the Baptist had announced himself as the Messiah and raised a revolt against Rome, priests and people would have flocked to support him. Satan stood ready to urge on him everything that appeals to the ambition of the world’s conquerors. But he had firmly refused the splendid bribe. The attention fixed upon him he directed to Another. HH 75.1

Now he saw the tide of popularity turning away from himself to the Savior. Day by day the crowds around him lessened as the people flocked to hear Jesus. The number of Christ’s disciples increased daily. HH 75.2

But the disciples of John looked with jealousy on Jesus’ growing popularity. They stood ready to criticize His work, and it was not long before they found opportunity. A question arose between John’s disciples and the Jews about whether baptism cleansed the person from sin. They argued that the baptism of Jesus differed essentially from John’s. Soon they were disputing with Christ’s disciples over what form of words was proper to use at baptism, and finally about their right to baptize at all. The disciples of John came to him with their complaints, saying, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” HH 75.3

Satan used these words to bring temptation on John. If John had expressed disappointment at being surpassed, he would have sown seeds of strife, encouraged envy and jealousy, and seriously slowed the gospel’s progress. HH 75.4

By nature John had the faults and weaknesses common to humanity, but the touch of divine love had transformed him. He lived in an atmosphere uncontaminated with selfishness and ambition. He revealed no sympathy with his disciples’ dissatisfaction but showed how gladly he welcomed the One for whom he had prepared the way. HH 75.5

He said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.” John represented himself as the friend who acted as a messenger between the engaged parties, preparing the way for the marriage. When the bridegroom had received his bride, the mission of the friend was completed. He rejoiced in the happiness of the couple whose union he had promoted. In the same way, it was John’s joy to witness the success of the Savior’s work. He said, “Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” HH 75.6

Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-denial. He had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, so that everyone might turn their eyes to the Light of life. HH 76.1

John’s soul was emptied of self but was filled with the light of God. John said, “He who comes from above is above all. ... For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.” Christ could say, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30. HH 76.2

It is the same way with the followers of Christ. We can receive Heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self and consent to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. God gives the Holy Spirit beyond measure to all who do this. HH 76.3

The success of Christ’s work, which the Baptist had received with joy, was reported also to the authorities at Jerusalem. The priests and rabbis had been jealous of John’s influence as they saw the people leaving the synagogues and flocking to the wilderness. But here was One who had even greater power to attract the crowds. Those leaders in Israel were not willing to say with John, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” HH 76.4