by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
Okay – confession: this is one of my most favorite dates – it is John the Baptist Day, the day the church remembers John the Baptist. Why this date? Think about it: what is the date? June 24th. Now remember this quote from John the Baptizer: “He must become greater; I must become less.” (Gospel of John 3:30)
Jesus has become more popular than The Baptizer. John’s disciples quiz John about Jesus’ popularity… “everyone is going to him.” John replies, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. …Jesus must increase, I must decrease.” The Prophet John is only a pointer to Jesus, a prophetic voice announcing the coming King and his kingdom. Elijah has come and spoke. Now it is time for him to decrease, to be taken… beheaded. Jesus speaks highly of John – “what did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind – nothing? A man dressed in finery? A man in a palace? No I tell you! There is no one greater than John in the kingdom of heaven. But — but — even the least of those in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11)
Oh that I could be like John! Jesus the king is born on December 25th. So the church places John’s day as far from Jesus’ birthday as possible. One hundred and eighty days opposite of Jesus, June 25th – this is John’s Day. Truth be told, I think I look forward to John’s Day more than Christmas. Why? I must become less, He must become greater in my life. I feel more attraction to John than Jesus. I know I am suppose to imitate Jesus, but I want to imitate John. I must decrease, become less. Then and only then will I be great in heaven’s eyes. This is my Via Negativa – the great Kenosis, the great emptying of my SELF, silently caught up in the flame of god’s grace, consumed, every thought captive, every moment sitting at the feet of Jesus. Moving out under the hand of the Holy Spirit with joy and power – DOING out of my BEING, my belongedness, not out of my head and hands or skills and talents. May we be so compelled to announce the King and his kingdom – like John, like Elijah, hand to the plow, no turning back, Surrendered.
China always drives me to this Day. In China I am surrounded by Baptizers. May I be like those in the persecuted house church in China.
“Let us go also, that we might die with him.”