“He must increase, but I must decrease.” In Bible study, I was taught that this is how a believer should behave — with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit that comes with the acceptance of Christ, the believer should shake off his own egotism and desires and embrace the way of Christ. To me, this speaks of the truth, how many other religions and belief systems deal with the issue of coming out of ownself, or leaving one’s selfish desires behind so that one might become more holy or enlightened or more aligned with God? It seems to me it runs through many belief systems.
I like John’s response here — it seems as if he is approached and asked, basically, ‘doesn’t this bother you?’ People are not listening to him as much but following this interloper, some new guy. John reminds them that this new guy is the Messiah, for whom John has been waiting and for whom he has prepared the way. He has accomplished his mission, he has succeeded. “For this reason my joy has been fulfilled.”
I wonder if John realized that decreasing would mean losing his head.