John’s resignation letter – Thursday,2nd Week of Easter – Acts 5:27-33/John 3:31-36
We do not know if Nicodemus saw the light or walked out into the darkness. We can safely assume that he was a follower of Christ because scripture makes know to us that he was at Jesus’ burial. With the Nicodemus discussion now behind him, Jesus walks into the Judean countryside. Scripture tells us the Jesus was baptizing people here. John was baptizing too though a distance away. There is a lesson for all of us in the ministry; God’s mission has place for all. It is co-operation and not competition that helps evangelization.
Scripture now tells us that a discussion regarding purification arose between a Jew and the disciples of John. We are not told what happened about the discussion but we are told that jealousy has set in. The disciples of John are miffed that their ‘congregation’ is thinning out to the new kid on the block. So, John the Baptist has to school his disciples whose hearts are set on earthly popularity and not the plan of the father. John is clear; he MUST decrease, Christ MUST increase!
John explained to his followers that he was like the best man at a wedding; he isn’t the bridegroom. He isn’t to be the focus of attention, but to supervise the bringing of two people together. In the Jewish wedding customs of that day, the friend of the bridegroom arranged many of the details of the wedding and brought the bride to the groom. Nevertheless, the friend of the bridegroom was never the focus of attention, and wanted it that way.
John is emphatic, you cannot usurp the plan of God or veer it in the course you want. Jesus was sent by God “from above” he is not a plan that was hatched on earth. Sending Jesus was God’s idea. The disciples of John who were filled with jealousy for Jesus and his disciples were operating with an earthly thoughts. John reminds his disciples that Jesus comes from heaven and is ABOVE ALL.
For John there is no gradual fading off. Most of us would like to gradually and slowly ease out of a post that is important and has a spot light on it. No one asks you to step down from a post that barely has a title or a typewriter. The fact is, when God sets his seal on any mission, it does not matter who on earth is in charge; God brings it to fulfilment. Yet we resist giving up posts of honour. We don’t want to give up sitting on chairs that bring us adulation and popularity. Our late Holy Father, Pope Benedict the XVI won the hearts of the world when he had the grace to just let go and let God be in charge. Sadly, that lesson has not seeped down to the rank and file of the Church; both clergy and laity.
Finally, John has another thought to share. The Son, Jesus, is the perfect image of the Father and shares generously with us what he has received from his Father. Life without end awaits all those who believe in the Son, who believe his words and accept them as their way of life. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life but must endure the wrath of God.”
Notice that one who believes “has” eternal life. Eternal life begins now with the response of faith. On the other hand we must not think that God takes vengeance on those who disobey Jesus. God can never be angry in our normal sense of the word. But rather, those who choose to go another way, the way of darkness and evil can only expect to meet death. They are the victims, not of God’s anger, but of their own determination to live in darkness. Let us remember that with God’s help, the choice is ours to make.