Jesus & John – Sharing the Spotlight

The sweet smell of incense filled the space as Zacharias carried out his duties. Seeing the people gathered and praying lifted his spirits and he rejoiced in the God of Israel, so near to His people. Words of a familiar, long-denied prayer pounded a cadence in his brain, “that I may have a child, Lord…bless my wife…honor us…remove the shame from our faces...”

So lost in thought was he that at first he didn’t see the stranger who stood by the right side of the altar of incense. But, then he looked up. And his heart jerked in a strange beat, pounding and pulsing as though it sought to jump out of his body. The strange visitor glowed in an other-worldly sort of way, his visage lit by something unseen. Fear caused Zacharias to tremble, the tools of his priestly duties slipping out of nerveless hands.

Then the stranger spoke.

“Fear not, Zacharias. For thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”


Source: Bing Images

Source: Bing Images

Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said; I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 {King James Version}

John the Baptist was a child of promise, born to an old couple who had prayed for many years to have a child. Shortly before he was conceived, an angel of the Lord appeared to John’s father and told him about John – he would be filled with the Holy Ghost from the moment of his birth and would turn many Israelites back to God. His purpose was to prepare the way for the Messiah. So, even before he was born, it was clear that this child would be special.

As he began his ministry, though he seemed eccentric {he ate wild locusts and honey} John gained popularity and many people came to him to be baptized. It would have been easy to get swept up in the spiritual fervor that accompanied his presence – people were hungry for what he brought and flocked to him.

He could have decided to build a tent there, and start his own church.

He could have formed a traveling ministry and taken his baptismal skills elsewhere.

But, he did none of those things. Because he knew who he was. He knew what his purpose was.

When Jesus began His ministry, some of John’s disciples were concerned, and they went to John, essentially saying, “Look, Rabbi. There’s this guy…this Jesus guy. Remember him? You even baptized him! But, now he’s baptizing others…stealing your thunder! What are you going to do about it?”

John simply said to them, “I must decrease and He must increase.”

A commentary I read on this scripture talked about John’s contentment to play a lesser role to Christ. Yes, he had contentment, but it was a contentment that was born out of discernment. He knew his purpose was to prepare the way, and he didn’t try to stretch it out into something else.

How many ministers today would gladly give up a position of privilege and the adulation of men, in order to make way for someone else? How many of us would step away from something we’re good at – maybe, even great – and surrender the spotlight to someone else?

John the Baptist was content to be who he was. He didn’t look at his dwindling ministry and think, “We have to come up with some church growth strategies – find a way to keep people in the pews.” No. He looked at the fewer numbers, as people flocked to Jesus and said, “This is as it should be.”

The search for our purpose – our destiny – is a noble one. It forces us to draw close to God as we seek His face and ask why He sent us here. It helps us to look inward in self-reflection as we seek to understand why He gave us this talent, or that ability.

But, as we search, I pray that God will grant us the discernment to know, not just the what, but the when, and where. That He will give us the wisdom to know when to apply our gifts and when to take a step back.

Because it would be a tragedy if we attempt to stretch something out, long after God’s blessing has departed from it.


Onyih Odunze

PS: My novella, 'Finding Grace' is now available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook and on as an ePub which can be read on any computer or device!

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