The following quote is speaking about John the Baptist’s willingness for Jesus to be greater. Often when we think of this aspect of John’s life we think of how we too must live in order that Christ be glorified. That is of course a major application for us. But have you ever considered that we should also be willing for others to come to the fore and us to fade into the background if that is what our Lord wants for us:
John not only had a large following; he also demonstrated authority as he rebuked the religious leaders for their hypocrisy. But he did not get carried away with his own importance. He understood clearly his role and knew that there was One coming after him who would be greater, who would have a greater role. John did not balk at being surpassed. Jesus was the greater One, the Messiah, the divine Son of God, who was ready to assume his momentous redemptive role. Yet Jesus assumed a position of subservience as he submitted himself to the waters of baptism by John. He did not balk at appearing lesser. This is a tremendous lesson on self-understanding in carrying out God’s calling on our lives. Neither John nor Jesus got carried away with appearances. They demonstrated strength in carrying out their roles in the plan of salvation, yet that strength also included diminishing the appearance of their own importance. The key word here is humility, a term that does not get much good press in our day. We hear much more of rights. Perhaps it is not new, because the picture that John and Jesus give every age is the incongruity of their humility relative to the significance of their roles. We do not like to give up our appearance of importance. Thus, John and Jesus give us a powerful example of humility. Knowing God’s purposes and not allowing our self-promotion to get in the way enable us to accomplish God’s calling for our lives as well.
Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004), 151.