The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, "Here he is, God's Passover Lamb." The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, "What are you after?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?" He replied, "Come along and see for yourself." They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard John's witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, "We've found the Messiah" (that is, "Christ"). He immediately led him to Jesus. Jesus took one look up and said, "You're John's son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas" (or Peter, which means "Rock"). // John 1:35-42, The Message
John the Baptist continues to intrigue me as I read these early parts of the Gospel of John. I am finding him instructive for me as a pastor.
We live in a day and age where pastors build platforms. I am guilty of it. I failed at it, but there has been a significant season in my life where I was deeply desirous of building my platform to broaden my influence. Sometimes you feel like if you haven’t published a book or been invited to speak at conferences you’re some sort of failure. Some of us seek to build our influence by building mega-churches. We come to the conclusion that anything that’s not illegal or immoral is fine to do if we can add another bottom in the pews.
It really is striking to think about the difference between the way many of us pastors act and the way John did.
First, you have John who was out being present in the community. Peterson puts it this way, “he was at his post.” So many of us think that our post is the pulpit and that we need to spend most of our time in our office polishing up a sermon. We truly believe that our 20-40 minute talk each week will disciple, mentor, and transform people’s lives. After being on both sides of the pulpit I am quite confident that sermons by and large don’t change people’s lives. What I have found is that a deep, abiding, personal relationship with someone creates an environment where a sermon is like the Hershey’s chocolate syrup on a sundae. In the moment someone may experience something but it was built on the patient ferment of relationship. More of us need to realize that our office isn’t our post. Our office is our refuge where we go to recoup and rest. The coffee shops, bars, bowling alleys, and neighborhoods are our posts. We need to expend our energy there and then return to our refuge to refuel.
Second, John was more concerned with those who he was building into seeing Jesus than seeing him. Did you notice that? As soon as he saw Jesus, he pointed his disciples to Jesus. What did they do? They left John and followed Jesus! Also notice that Jesus was out and about in the community too. John’s greatest desire was people to follow Christ. His goal through his teaching and mentoring was for people to leave him and follow Christ. It’s pretty amazing to think that is was through John’s influence that the core of the apostolic band was being formed. Peter, arguably the most famous, came to Christ because his brother Andrew saw Jesus because of John.
When it’s not about us, it can be about Jesus. This means that we must be faithful to attend our posts and point people to Christ.
You don’t have to be a pastor to live like John. You can be anything. It just so happens that my calling is that of pastor. I’d love to hear from you about how you see what I might start calling the “John Principle” play out in your profession or life at the moment? Where’s your “post” and what’s your refuge? Who do you come into contact with that you get to point our Christ to?