John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
At the River Jordan, John the Baptist’s fame had risen to such amazing proportions that most of the city of Jerusalem came-out to the wilderness to see what he was doing. And, many of those who came to see John asked him to Baptize them. It’s easy to forget what John “looked” like and how he lived – “John wore a garment of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” (Matthew 3:4) That’s kind of like all of Rome going out to Tenuta Santa Colomba to the River Tiber to see about this homeless-looking vagrant who was screaming at folks to repent of their sins and be Baptized in God. But, even with John’s rise to fame at the Jordan, he still knew his place. While being Faithful to God’s Calling (per the Prophet Isaiah) to become the “voice of one calling in the wilderness” preparing the way for the Lord, he was Blessed by choosing last place. Blessed in that Jesus said (in Matthew 11:11), “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” John knew his place. He chose to do the best that he could in this world while finishing last when compared to anyone else who was already in Heaven. Jesus chose the cross so that we could live. He chose to become the least among us (as per Philippians 2:6-8), “Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.…” Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, left His Heavenly Throne to be murdered for us. He chose last place. John the Baptist was beheaded for choosing last place. The Apostles and countless Disciples of Christ throughout His-story have chosen last place. The Reverend Billy Graham put it this way, “Humility before God is not complete unless there is also humility before man.” By choosing “last place”, we are being Faithful. And, like John the Baptist and the countless others who have humbled themselves before us, we will be exalted if we choose last place (Matthew 23:12). Try the J.O.Y. Principle today – putting Yourself (Y) last and putting Jesus (J) and Others (O) before you; that’s where God promises the True Joy to be.