John 3:22–36 (NRSV)
Jesus and John the Baptist
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized 24 —John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The One Who Comes from Heaven
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.
Some of us have difficulty navigating the times in between great moments of our lives. Today, we have an entire age group named for this particular stage of life called “Tweens”. These are young people who are no longer children, but who are not quite teenagers yet. It is a crazy age where hormones are beginning to fire up at random intervals and growth spurts are occurring, yet the maturity and responsibility we ask of many teenagers may not have come yet. In many ways, it is just some of the most awkward moments of a young person’s life. They know where they are heading – some of it good, some of it maybe not so good – and all they can do is wait.
But wait, is that true? The only thing we are able to do in-between these moments in life is wait? I’m not so sure.
Look at John the Baptist. He had a brief time in between the climax of his ministry: Baptizing Jesus, up to his death in prison for preaching God’s Word. People were coming to him and asking how he felt about all those who had been following him who were now going to Jesus, getting baptized by his disciples, and following Jesus instead of John. John may not have understood everything that was going to happen. Like you and I, he was not God and did not know everything. Yet he knew his own particular role, so he felt he knew enough. John explained that he was like the best man at a wedding, who was there simply to celebrate the wedding of his dear friend, the groom.
So, one thing John could do in between was celebrate.
The other thing he mentioned was a knowledge that Jesus must increase and John must decrease. John was exercising his humility in between his own highlighted moments. In fact, I think this exercise in humility probably helped prepare him for his witness in prison. We do not often talk about humility as a preparation for great things, but I believe it is one of the best preparations. No matter what you are going through and going to, learning and practicing humility will make you more prepared when you get there.
What do you find yourself “in between” today?
How can you practice humility, and how might that help prepare you for your next transition?