22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.. — 1 Peter 1:22-25 NIV
Having received Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are being puriifed by His grace and His love. He has placed His Spirit within us to teach us to love others as He loves us. This change will not come overnight, but it will come if we practice listening to and following the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to teach us all truth. As we obey that voice of truth that is within us, we will learn to appreciate the love that Jesus has for us and we will reciprocate by showing that love to others. At first, it may just be words that we speak, but as we allow the Holy Spirit to be a bigger part of our life, we will find that we really do love and care for others. With humility and patience, that love will evolve into something similar, but not nearly as great as the love that Jesus shows to us. As John the Baptist said about Jesus “He must increase, I must decrease”. so, it must be true in our lives as well. We must think of ourselves less and less and of Jesus and others more and more. The flesh perishes and decreases while the Spirit is imperishable and increases. This is the Word that was preached to us and is alive and living in us. Everything will perish except the Word of Jesus, it will stand forever. Just as Jesus was determined to go to the cross knowing that glory awaited Him on the other side, we need to be firm in our stand regardless of the personal cost knowing the hope that we have to spend an eternity with Him in His glory.
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. — Luke 9:51 NIV
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! —1 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV
Paul continues to admonish the Christians at Corinth about their attitude. They are boastful of their salvation as if they had done something to earn it. They have made assumptions and “gone beyond what is written”, even though they have no way of having knowledge that Paul, Apollo, and Peter would not have access to. They mistakenly think that because they are saved, they are already rich and powerful here on earth. Paul contrasts their attitude to the way he, Apollo and Peter think and act. They are mistreated, abused, imprisoned and “made spectacles” for the world and the angels to look upon. They have become fools for Christ’s sake, but the Corinthians are “puffed up”, thinking they are wise. They have given up their honor for the sake of the glory of God. Paul, Apollo, and Peter have become weak so that Jesus might show His strength through their weakness.
They have come to understand what John the Baptist meant when he said: 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”–John 3:30 NIV
And we need to have that same attitude. We can do nothing of heavenly value without Christ but we can do all things through Christ. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.–Phil. 4:13 NIV
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.—John 3: 27-29 (NLT)
Over and over in Chapter 3, we are reminded of John’s faithfulness and steadfastness in following the plan that God had laid out for Him. In today’s society, with all of it’s “me first” attitudes, we need this constant reminder. We, like John, need to know our place in God’s plan and be faithful in carrying out that plan. God’s plan is for us to teach and preach the “foolishness” of the gospel. God has gifted each of us with a special gift that He wants us to use in spreading His Word. What is our gift and how are we using it to further the Kingdom of God here on earth? There is not one job in God’s Kingdom that is not important. Every part of the body has to function well for the Church to work as God planned it. Do we do our job with gratitude that God has chosen us to help Him? Are we filled with joy when those that have more visible jobs are successful? Do we honestly and fervently pray for those in authority over us? Are we “filled with joy” when those around us are promoted to a position over us? In our hearts and minds, we must see ourselves as less important and Jesus as Lord or as Paul puts it, we must mortify the flesh and follow after the Spirit.
22 Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people. 23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”—John 3:22-26 (NLT)
John the Baptist would continue his ministry until the time that Herod had him imprisoned. He continued to minister through his disciples until he was beheaded. At this time, Jesus was also teaching his disciples to baptize people. Jesus Himself did not baptize but directed His disciples (John 4:2) John’s disciples were concerned about this for John’s sake. But steadfast, faithful John completely understood his place in being the forerunner of Jesus. He was not bothered by this event at all. John knew that his work had to decrease and as Jesus took His own place in history, Jesus would increase. This had always been the plan from before the foundations of the earth. Let us be as faithful now as John was then and we will receive our rewards when we get to heaven.
*****Does anyone wonder why verse 25 is included in this narrative?