Dr. Zach Crook
Have you ever heard someone say, “Young people are the future of the church”? This is a lie that many Christians believe. Instead, young people are an integral part of your church community as soon as they have the Holy Spirit within them. They don’t need to wait to get involved in what God’s doing! When you value the next generation and provide opportunities for them to use their gifts to honor God, your church will thrive. If this is an area of growth for your community, or if you’re a graduating senior yourself, you can be encouraged by the words in John 3, which emphasize the importance of building your life on the gospel.
Exploring John 3
In John 3, we encounter a pivotal character in the gospel narrative. John the Baptist was a prophet who emerged after a 400-year period without prophets in Israel. John’s message centered on repentance and the anticipation of the Messiah. He attracted a large following, baptizing people and proclaiming the coming of the Lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the world.
The Dispute and John’s Response
In this passage, a dispute arises between John’s disciples and a Jew regarding purification. John’s disciples express concern that people are now flocking to Jesus instead of listening to John. However, John responds by emphasizing that his role is to prepare the way for the Messiah. He says, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”
John reminds his disciples that he himself is not the Messiah, but rather the one sent ahead of Him. John acknowledges that the groom, referring to Jesus, is the one who has the bride, which represents the Church. John describes himself as the friend of the groom who rejoices greatly when he hears the groom’s vows. John’s joy is complete when he sees Jesus’ ministry flourishing. He joyfully affirms that the bride belongs to the groom and rejoices in the groom’s vows. John concludes with the famous words, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” signifying his humility and recognition of Jesus’ supreme importance.
John’s Purpose and Humility
This passage reveals John’s humility and deep understanding of his role in God’s plan. He recognizes that Jesus is the central figure and that his own ministry is merely a preparation for the arrival of the Messiah. John the Baptist’s humility serves as a powerful example for us. He understood his role and willingly embraced a position of decrease so that Jesus could increase. This mindset challenges us to examine our own lives and prioritize Jesus’ exaltation above our own ambitions and desires. It is a call to surrender and submit to God’s plan, recognizing that everything we have and everything we do is ultimately given to us from heaven. John’s disciples were focused on their own status and were jealous of Jesus’ growing popularity, but John redirects their attention to the greater purpose and emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ exaltation.
As we reflect on this message, we can draw several key lessons. First, it is essential to recognize that the Church is not just the future—it is the present. Each member, regardless of age or status, contributes to the body of Christ. Second, we should approach God’s Word—not only seeking personal promises and blessings, but also with a heart to magnify and glorify Jesus. The Bible is not merely about us; it is about Jesus and His redemptive work.
Lessons for Graduates and All Believers
We can all apply the lessons from John’s response to our own lives. For high school and college seniors preparing for graduation, it’s an exciting time. Each of you is eager to make a mark on the world, live out your dreams, and live your best life! However, in the midst of this exciting season, it’s important to prioritize building our lives on the solid ground of the gospel and making Jesus the cornerstone of our existence.
Understanding God’s Promises
It’s about that time of year when students and classmates pass their yearbooks around to sign. They fill the pages with cute quotes and touching messages. Though this is the perfect use for a yearbook, we must be careful not to treat God’s Word the same way. God’s Word is not a collection of promises catered solely to individual desires. While there are numerous promises in the Bible, they are ultimately about Jesus and His redemptive work. Psalm 46:10 is an example of this. God’s promise to be still and know that He is God is followed by the declaration that He will be exalted in all the nations. God’s promises are not just for personal fulfillment, but also for magnifying and glorifying His name through our lives.
Embracing God’s Mission
God’s Word is not primarily about us; it’s about Jesus and His mission. Just as a yearbook still exists without individual mentions, the Bible remains significant, even if we remove ourselves from its promises. This doesn’t mean we play an insignificant role though. Jesus showed through His death, burial, and resurrection that He deeply desires a way for us to have a right relationship with God. He loves us that much! So rather than solely seeking personal blessings from Him, we should focus on living on mission and exalting His name among the nations.
Whether you’re a graduating senior or simply a Christian on mission, this passage reminds us all of the importance of humility. John the Baptist’s response to his disciples’ jealousy reminds us of the centrality of Jesus in our lives. As we navigate the various opportunities and transitions in life, including graduation and senior recognition, we must remember that it is not about us, but about Jesus. Let us embrace humility, prioritize His exaltation, and live on mission for His glory. May we echo John’s words, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” as we build our lives on the solid ground of the gospel and make Jesus the cornerstone of our existence.