All of us want to finish our Christian race well, but many do not. Why? Because we cherish our roles in the great wedding more than the wedding itself. That is why John the Baptizer is such a great example for us.
John’s disciples had understood his mission. His role was to prepare the way for the hope of Israel. This was an exciting time. The day when the Messiah would come was very close—that climatic day when Jesus appeared and John publicly proclaimed him as the Messiah. Yet they felt marginalized by these events.
The last year had held great excitement. John had been a famous celebrity, the first prophet in Israel in four centuries. He had stood before them bravely calling them out, even the self-righteous Pharisees. When people heard John they repented and were baptized. These apostles had seen revival and they had been in the middle of it.
But now they weren’t. The people had moved on to Jesus. Of course it was wrong to be jealous of the Messiah. But still, their rabbi-and they with him-suddenly were forgotten even after all that God had done through them. They couldn’t help but to point out, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness-look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
John had spent a lifetime being prepared for his brief introduction. In spite of his loud and convicting preaching, he had always lived very humbly. He was a man who was not eaten up by the cancer of pride. And because he had learned to anticipate his replacement more than his own prophetic role, he now was ready. He had learned to love the bridegroom’s appearing and not love the celebrity of being the bridegroom’s best man.
But this lesson did not come easily. And it would be a hard lesson for his followers as well. He knew they loved the bridegroom, but they were just learning that when the Lord grants a role to play, we must perform it faithfully. However, we can’t fall in love with the role, because the Lord also takes it away. The role is not our reward; the Lord is our reward.
We must remember that our role is not our reward. Jesus is our reward. Roles will begin and they will end. And the only way for us to end well is if in our heart for Jesus has increased and we have decreased. What moves in your heart at the thought of Jesus giving another person a more prominent role in his wedding? How much do you long to have a more prominent one? How well are you prepared to end the role he has given you? What if he gives your role to someone else?
The wedding is not about us. It’s about him. And we never want to compete with the Bridegroom for the bride’s attention and affection. For God must always be greater; and I must learn to become less.