Day 4

The Coming Kingdom

John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
By: Bob Henson, Rector, Grace Anglican Community, Katy

You just have to love John the Baptist. Oh, John was a little different. You might not want to invite him to a party. You might not want your daughter to date him (no worries, John didn’t date). But, we would do well to listen to him... and to emulate him.

It had been four hundred years since the people of Israel had received a prophetic word from God. It had been a long, long dry spell. And, then...John appeared in the Judean wilderness. Like a torch thrown into a field of wheat stubble, John was a fire that ignited suddenly, spread quickly and burned hot. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him... (Matthew 3:5).

Imagine merchants, tradesmen, mothers with infants, old people, young people... even Pharisees and Sadducees putting their lives on hold and traveling to see John. Every day, word about John spread. His popularity skyrocketed.

John’s message was a strong one. It was a blend of warning and hope. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2). God was on the move. People listened intently. And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” (Luke 3:10). Lives were being transformed.

For a preacher, what could be better? Ever increasing crowds. The word being internalized. People asking application questions. Heady stuff.

So one wonders, how did John handle his sudden fame? After all, John was a fallen, sinful human being like the rest of us. As such, he was subject to the same temptations as anyone else. Did John struggle with pride? Was his ego, his self-worth wrapped up in his work? He certainly wouldn’t be the only preacher ever to wrestle with that.

But no. Whatever else John might have struggled with, pride was not an issue. Time after time, he pointed people away from himself and toward Jesus.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
“...he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (Luke 3:16) “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

And, isn’t that the desire of our hearts, too? Don’t we want Jesus to increase? Don’t we want his kingdom to come in all its fullness? Don’t we want the whole world to know that Jesus is the name above all names?

Of course. That is what this devotional and these days of prayer are about. In an ever darkening world, we long for Jesus, The Light of the World, to bring renewal, revival and awakening. We long for the day when God’s kingdom will come and for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

And, we can be certain that our longing will be fulfilled... in his way, in his time. That is how God does things. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman...” (Galatians 4:4). Yes, in the fullness of time, awakening will happen...or Jesus will return. Either is fine with me.

But until then, I ache and I weep and I pray for the lost. Yes, I pray that all people, in all places will know this wonderful, glorious God whose love did the unthinkable... sending his only begotten son, Jesus, to die for us. In the words of the Charles Wesley hymn, “Amazing love! How can it be that Thou my God, shouldst die for me?” Oh, that the world would know!

Please pray with me.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.