From Heaven With Love


Chapter 18—“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 his standard. Every consideration that appeals to the ambition of the world's conquerors Satan stood ready to urge upon him. But he had steadfastly refused the splendid bribe. The attention fixed upon him he directed to Another. HLv 113.1

Now he saw the tide of popularity turning away from himself to the Saviour. Day by day the crowds about him lessened as the people flocked to hear Jesus. The number of Christ's disciples increased daily. HLv 113.2

But the disciples of John looked with jealousy upon the growing popularity of Jesus. They stood ready to criticize His work, and it was not long before they found occasion. A question arose between John's disciples and the Jews as to whether baptism cleansed the soul from sin; they maintained that the baptism of Jesus differed essentially from that of John. Soon they were in dispute with Christ's disciples in regard to the form of words proper to use at baptism, and finally as to their right to baptize at all. The disciples of John came to him with their grievances, saying, “Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him.” HLv 113.3

Through these words, Satan brought temptation upon John. If John had expressed disappointment at being superseded, he would have sown seeds of dissension, encouraged envy and jealousy, and seriously impeded the progress of the gospel. HLv 113.4

John had by nature the faults and weaknesses common to humanity, but the touch of divine love had transformed him. He dwelt in an atmosphere uncontaminated with selfishness and ambition. He manifested no sympathy with the dissatisfaction of his disciples, but showed how gladly he welcomed the One for whom he had prepared the way. HLv 114.1

He said, “No one can receive anything except what is given 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; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice.” RSV. John represented himself as the friend who acted as a messenger between the betrothed parties, preparing the way for the marriage. When the bridegroom had received his bride, the mission of the friend was fulfilled. He rejoiced in the happiness of those whose union he had promoted. So it was John's joy to witness the success of the Saviour's work. He said, “This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” HLv 114.2

Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the Light of life. HLv 114.3

The soul of the prophet, emptied of self, was filled with the light of the divine. John said, “He that cometh from above is above all... . For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.” Christ could say, “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.” John 5:30. HLv 114.4

So with the followers of Christ. We can receive of heaven's light only as we are willing to be emptied of self and consent to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. To all who do this the Holy Spirit is given without measure. HLv 114.5

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 still greater power to attract the multitudes. Those leaders in Israel were not willing to say with John, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” HLv 115.1