He Must Increase
Daniel and the Three Young Men
17 December 2018
John the Baptist proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He had heard the voice of the Father saying of Jesus whom he had baptized, "This is my beloved Son!" He had seen the dove descend upon Him, marking Jesus as anointed by God. The kingdom was indeed here. John could taste it in the locusts and wild honey that was his food. He could touch it. He had set the water upon the forehead of Jesus, a forehead that would be pierced for our transgressions. He watched the water trickle over his robe and sparkle in the sunlight. His heart leapt as he embraced his cousin, knowing that it was He for whom the people had waited since the fall of Adam to be the Seed of the woman. He had come to crush the head of their enemy and free them from their sins and their subjection to death.

The Father had made manifest to John the very One who was Himself the Life. The Christ who was from the beginning, from the bosom of the Father, John heard, he saw, he looked upon, and he touched. This one was the life. Because He was here, John could proclaim the eternal life which was from the Father. He had now appeared (1Jn 1:1-2) in human flesh.

John knew that the kingdom had to be about the Christ. He knew that he must decrease, and Jesus must increase (Jn 3:30). When they asked him, "Are you the one who is coming?" He answered rather fiercely confessing, "I am not the Christ!" He knew very well that the kingdom was not about him. He was only the voice. His was the mouth opened by God to herald the appearance of the true King, the Christ, who had now come onto the scene to establish the long-promised kingdom. He was okay with that. His call from God was quite clear. He was to tell of the Other. He was not to speak of himself. And he did not. He called to repentance a people who didn't know how to deal with their sins. He taught them to confess and to give fruit of repentance. He brought them into the coming kingdom through the washing of regeneration; a baptism unto life.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"This is the general tenor of John the Baptist's message, that he diverted the attention of all from himself and toward Christ. For this reason, he is fittingly called a teacher "rich in grace," a preacher of grace, who proclaims the gracious and merciful message that Christ is our Light, with no reference to his locusts or to his garment of camel's hair. In a similar manner we still bear witness to Christ today when we declare that He is the only Savior of the world, the Lamb of God, yes, our Shepherd, our Abbot, our Bridegroom, and our Messiah. That proclamation is the sum and substance of our testimony."

 Martin Luther, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John, 1.7
John 3:25-30

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness-look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease."
Dear Christ, today we declare that You are the only Savior of the world, the Lamb of God, yes, our Shepherd, our Abbot, our Bridegroom, and our Messiah. That proclamation is the sum and substance of our testimony. Keep us ever faithful to this proclamation as was John the Baptist. Amen.

For President Matthew C. Harrison of the LCMS, that the Lord of the church would keep him steadfast in His Word

For all those traveling to be near loved ones in this season, that the Lord Jesus would send His holy angels to watch over them

For all women who are carrying children, that they would safely be delivered of the gift of a child

For Pastor Charles Wokoma, missionary to Nigeria, who is on his home furlough, that the Lord of the church would give him a time of rest and success at raising support for his special and important work
Art: Raffaellino dell Garbo  The Annunciation (c. 1510)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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