JOHN, THE BAPTIST
John the Baptist was called the forerunner of Jesus. He was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Both of them were very faithful to God. But Elizabeth was barren. The angel appeared to Zechariah and promised to give them a son (Lk.1:5-25). As a result, John was born to them. John was born according to Godís plan to fulfil Godís programme. The hand of God was evident even in his birth. His ministry was to prepare the heart of people for Jesus. He preached about repentance and baptised many (Lk.3:3). He also preached about the kingdom of heaven (Matt.3:1,2). He gave the testimony of Jesus prior to Jesusí ministry.
He was asked many questions about himself because some thought he was the Messiah. He also had some disciples who followed him. On one occasion, his disciples asked him about the ministry of Jesus, as they were thinking why others were also doing the ministry of John and why more people followed Jesus (Jn.3:26). The disciples of John were not so happy to see the popularity of Jesus, as compared with John. But John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven... The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroomís voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less" (Jn.3:27-30). John was pleased with his position, duration and job description.
John the Baptist was a humble and sincere man. He knew the limitations of his ministry. He knew the measure of his ministry. He knew the extent of his ministry. Even his disciples wanted him to compete with Jesus, wanted him to become more popular. But he knew his role and boundary of ministry. His role was to present Jesus; he knew he was chosen only to become the friend of the bridegroom. And he was happy for the extent God used him. He understood he was John, not Jesus. He knew his job description well. He also knew the carnal motives of his disciples when they asked him about Jesus.
Sometimes, we suffer not only from the opponents, but also from our followers and family members because of their worldliness. Even Jesus suffered from the same (Jn.7:4,5). Sometimes, we may be so overwhelmed by the praise of our followers that we may be tempted to fight with our co-workers and ministry partners. We must be careful with our followers not to be tempted to please them, instead of honouring Jesus in the first place.
Our leadership in the ministry is given by God. We cannot get it by our effort. We are appointed by God. God distributes our position and job description. We should never have our eye on somebody and compare our position and job. We can receive nothing except from the Lord.
How many leaders really know their limitations and job description in the ministry? Many ministries decline because some leaders do not want to withdraw themselves from the office. They sometimes do more good works so that they would be asked to continue in the same position. Some leaders go for a good record in the ministry, with the number of years they spend in the same ministry, and the area they cover. Scripture is not against the number of years, or the area of ministry, but Scripture is against that heart which wants to hold on to a position for popularity and facilities.
Am I happy with the kind of ministry God has assigned for me, or am I not in peace because some oneís ministry is growing more than mine? Do I know my call and gifts in the ministry? I must know that I am not the other person. Am I happy with the position and work God has given to me, or sleepless because God has blessed others more than me? Let us be like Jonathan (son of King Saul) and John the Baptist who knew their calling and opened the door for others. Great men of God! Do I have that attitude? With the knowledge of our calling, we must also recognise the calling of others. When we recognise the calling of others, we are recognising Godís sovereignty. This is more blessed than our position in the ministry. I must be able to say I am not called for that, whatever may be the position and facility. Self- denial is giving room for others. Knowing self is recognising God and His plan.