Day 4: John 3
Less of Me, More of You
“If we were asked to read to a dying man who did not know the gospel, we should probably select this chapter as the most suitable one for such an occasion; and what is good for dying men is good for us all, for that is what we are.” (Spurgeon)
John 3 is certainly a revelatory chapter and contains some of the best-known verses in the whole of the New Testament. Perhaps none more so than verse 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Today, however, I’d like to take a closer look at the gold that lies within verse 30, where John the Baptist says of Jesus “He must become greater; I must become less.” Or, as I have found myself praying daily … “less of me, more of you, God.”
To better understand the true heart behind this verse, let’s first take a look at the two very different responses to the concept of the new birth found in this chapter.
The first response came from the Pharisee Nicodemus, a knowledgeable teacher and authority on Scripture. Jesus observed in Nicodemus a deep hunger and emptiness. Here was a man who was doing his best to obey what he thought God wanted, yet his heart was empty and dissatisfied. Jesus explained to a confused Nicodemus that “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again” (verse 3), yet it was beyond Nicodemus’ understanding to fathom how this radical new beginning could possibly come from above.
Despite Jesus assuring him that he need not understand everything about the new birth in order to experience it, Nicodemus remained baffled by the concept. I wonder how much more Kingdom-minded Nicodemus would have been had he been prepared to say “less of me, more of you” in this moment!
John the Baptist, on the other hand, was thrilled by the concept. He was not at all concerned as people began to turn away from him in order to be baptised by Jesus. In fact, he went out of his way to point people to the Lord … “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1: 29). John the Baptist demonstrated a joyful response to the radical things Jesus had told Nicodemus. For John, joy resided in going down while Jesus went up. Decreasing while Jesus increased. Humbling himself in order that the bridegroom might receive His bride. And in that, his joy was “complete”!
I think many of us would perhaps admit to having elements of both Nicodemus and John the Baptist inside of us. As humans, we can all at times crave audience, praise and approval. And yet as believers, we’re called to respond to Jesus’ summons that He be exalted and we be humbled. Being born again means that we are no longer at the centre any more, Jesus is! But this doesn’t mean it’s not a constant battle with the flesh.
When David pleaded with God “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:2), he was saying “less of me and more of you, God”. He knew that in his own strength, there would be times when his heart would be overwhelmed. In those moments, he needed God to lead him to a place of stability and security that would stand against crashing waves or quaking earth, a place above himself, his wisdom and his abilities. He knew he couldn’t get there on his own. In this moment, David chose to make himself fully available to God.
When we make ourselves available to God … when we fix our eyes on Jesus and position ourselves to be used, we – like John the Baptist – become the vessel God designed us to be. The kind of vessel that can be used by its Creator for the very purpose it was created. When we make ourselves available to God, we’re saying “your will, not mine”, we’re saying “less of me, more of you, God”.
“Here I am with open hands,
Counting on your grace again.
Less of me and more of you,
I just want to see you move.
I hear you call
I am available.
I say ‘Yes Lord’!
I am available.”
(Available, Elevation Worship)