"Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ,
but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth
and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase,
but I must decrease." John 3:28-30
The Jews had just finished attempting to distract John with questions of prominence concerning John's ministry versus Christ's ministry, and now John takes a golden opportunity to "set them strait" on a few things. We, as proud sinners, are so often distracted with vain questions that do not answer to the truth, and we often need to be redirected to the humility that is so central to the Bible. We see first John's Declaration. John says, "Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him." The statement "I am not the Christ" is emphatic. John, as he so often did in his speaking, literally said, "I, I am not the Christ!" The Jews knew this to be the case because they had heard him declare this in the beginning of his ministry. John never attempted to place himself in a position of prominence above his Savior, not in word or in action; and yet, many Christians do just that in their speech and actions. We say Christ is above us but we fail to obey Him. We follow our own will instead of following the will of the Master.
Next we see John's Delight. He compares himself to the friend of the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom does not desire glory for himself in any way, but he rejoices when the bride of the bridegroom is praised because this reflects on the bridegroom. The bridegroom is the central focus of this wedding and not the bride or the friend. John, as the friend, is perfectly happy to see the bridegroom's joy and in hearing his praises. Notice how the friend is standing and hearing. This is the posture and attitude of a servant. The servant stands, ready to respond to the master's call. He is also listening intently for any desire from his master to be made known to him. John's ministry was to preach repentance thus preparing the hearts of people for receiving the Messiah. Those saved would go on to be the start of the Church as seen in Acts 2. John's delight was not to be known as some great prophet. His whole delight revolved around patient, obedient service, and because of this, Christ said, "Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.... (Luke 7:28)" Those that exalt themselves shall be humbled; that's a promise from God, but those that humble themselves shall be exalted; that's also a promise from God. John's delight was to humbly prepare the way for the Church, the bride of the Bridegroom (Eph. 5:22-33). Most people's joy is not fulfilled in service, but rather, it is found in trying to be the master. True joy is found, not in resistance of God's truth, but in humble acceptance of it, and in obedience to it.
Lastly, we see John's Desire. He said, "He must increase...." As a Christian matures in the faith, this should be what happens. Christ should shine through us more and more. He should become more prominent in our lives and fill our focus. If He does not, rebellion and pride are holding us back. "...but I must decrease." John realized what the Christian life is all about. But decreasing is painful. The old man doesn't die easily. The flesh fiercely resists being crucified, but true joy does not come apart from a crucified life. Though painful for the moment, allowing Christ to increase and ourselves to decrease "worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."