He must increase
Both Jesus and John the Baptist are preaching, inviting and getting response, and baptising people. Baptism by full immersion in water is a fitting response to the radical life change involved in turning to Jesus. Not surprisingly though, controversy arises between the two sets of followers. That often happens where the followers get tribal.
John’s response is great:
1) A man can only give out of what he has received from heaven. God is large and in charge and has different purposes and giftings for each of us.
2) His job is to point to Jesus. John the Baptist is like the best man at a wedding. The groom has come!
3) Jesus must become greater, I must become less. The best man stands back as Jesus comes and assumes His kingdom and His bride. As one commentator put it “Only a great man can accept his own demise with joy”.
John the Baptist then expands on what he has said about Jesus’ pre-eminence in three ways:
1) Source – Jesus is from above, heaven. John is from earth and is merely a man.
2) Words – Because Jesus has come from the Father, His words come from the Father and He has the Holy Spirit without limit.
3) Resources – Everything is in Jesus’ hands. The Father has given it all to Him.
Lastly verse 36 summarises everything thus far. The gospel gives us the choice of eternal life or wrath. It might seem odd but wrath and love go together a lot in Scripture. And usually as a choice! Psalm 2 exhorts us to kiss the son or experience God’s wrath. God’s desire and purpose is that we experience His love not reject Him for His wrath. Romans 1 shows us that the way people experience God’s wrath now is that He has allowed people to experience the consequences of their choices. That’s a foretaste of the judgement to come.
So instead “Choose Life”, choose God’s love.