My hair almost feels damp. My heart full. My soul refreshed.
Once again, we find ourselves splashing. Today we dive into Day 7 of the #LentChallenge. It’s not too late to grab Beloved: 40 Days in the Gospel of John PDF Download and dive in with us.
Have you noticed how much water we’ve been wading through in these opening chapters?
Splash. Splash. Drip. Drop. Spray. Sponge. Douse. Drench. Sprinkle. Spatter.
With the Color Method, we’re soaking in the life-giving Word, sipping the Living Water.
In John 3:22-36, we find John and Jesus and his disciples with pruned toes.
People enter the water one person and emerge someone new.
Droplets fly. Smiles beam. Joy bubbles.
But the religious leaders cast a dark cloud. John’s disciples are leaving in droves.
“Everyone is going to Him,” they complain.
If John was a small business owner, he’d be calling his accountant, bank manager, and an emergency meeting for his employees.
Yet John’s business is God’s business.
He knows all is God’s—including his followers, his faith, his future.
Instead of fear or panic, John feels…Joy.
Num. Num. My favorite word.
Then John speaks 7 breathtaking words:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Gulp. Double gulp.
John introduces us to the Slip N’ Slide of the Bible. Many prophets and leaders and poets had discovered and ridden it before.
But now the ultimate heralder of the Messiah steps on the Slip N’ Slide.
John is on the path of downward ascent.
He will continue to decrease, smaller and smaller, until he’s gone.
Most of us spend our lives trying to escape the Slip N’ Slide, this path of downward ascent.
Yet this is the path John goes down and the one Jesus will soon follow.
Which means that you and me, we too, must prepare to make the journey.
We shuffle toward downward ascent when we look to those we live with and work with and ask, “How can I decrease that others may increase?”
We move toward downward ascent when we survey our lives and begin making changes in our finances and lifestyle as we ask, “How can I decrease that others may increase?”
We make the brutiful journey of downward ascent, when we lived palms open, kingdom bound, determined to embrace the reality of Christ by living out, “How can I decrease that others may increase?”
This is the hidden Slip N’ Slide of the Bible.
It’s scary. Confession: it terrifies me.
Yet with every step, every movement, every slip downward in sacrifice and service, I can’t contain the inner glee.
Perhaps that’s what John was getting at when he said, “This joy of mine is fulfilled.”
Now let me ask you:
What did you least want to read but most need to hear in today’s reading?
(If you have any questions post them below. We’ll be collecting and gathering responses for insight from New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg in the upcoming weeks).
Day Seven: John 3:22-36 Discussion Questions:
- Why do you think John’s disciples were so concerned with the loss of followers? In what area of your life are you most struggling with someone else’s success?
- What surprises you most about John’s response to the decrease?
- Describe a time when you felt joy over your decrease and some else’s increase that wasn’t related to you.
- The reading notes that this happened when “John had not yet been put in prison.” Why do you think that’s significant?
- What do you find most challenging about today’s reading? What do you find most comforting about today’s reading?
- The Gospel According to John – Leon Morris
- The Gospel of John – Craig S. Keener
- John – Andreas J. Kostenberger
- Fight Back With Joy:Celebrate More, Regret Less, Stare Down Your Greatest Fears – Margaret Feinberg
Need to catch up? See below for previous blog post during our Lenten season: