Friday, March 6, 2009

Putting Things in Perspective

John 3: 22-36

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. 23John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized— 24John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

25 Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. 26They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’ 27John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, “I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.” 29He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease.’

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35The Father loves the Son and has place


It is interesting how as humans we are wired to be emotional beings—some more stoic, some happy-go-lucky…most of us at some point in between.  Still, we do not live in this world by ourselves and all it takes is one bad word, look or action to set us off at times, to suddenly change our moods and attitudes for the worse…and unnecessarily.  Yes, our bright, open attitudes can change to gray quick fast and in a hurry…particularly if we are not careful. 


John 3:22-36 offers an interesting lesson on responses to those mood shifting situations of life through the actions of both John’s disciples and John himself.  John’s attitude in the situation serves as a good model for us when faced with possible mood shifting situations.   


In vss. 25-26, John’s disciples, fresh out of a dispute or argument try to instigate against Jesus.  An argument would surely be a mood shifting situation.  And the disciples are so upset that they lose perspective, can’t even call Jesus by name (“the one who was with you”).  They allowed the dispute to get the best of them and then they turn around and try to incite John to act (physically, emotionally, whatever, just reactionary) against Jesus. 


It is a potentially mood shifting scenario, but John is able to keep perspective.  John is able to keep perspective and because of it, doesn’t cause unnecessary strife to himself or others.  John replies (I paraphrase) in vss. 27 and 28, I am not Christ and no one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from Heaven.  He diffuses the situation through his level head and his recognition of who he is in Christ.


Yes, we can be very emotional beings.  This is not to say that our passion or concern on certain personal or societal issues should not push us to be proactive—underachievement, homelessness, war, domestic violence, generational curses, poverty...   It certainly should.  However, some of the things that make us upset or angry over the course of a day or week are things that are avoidable, if we could like John quickly assess where we are in the moment.  John’s example teaches us how to avoid the pitfalls of being dragged into a bad attitude over something unnecessary and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in our responses.  John’s example encourages us to keep perspective, to keep our eyes on Jesus, even when suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a potentially mood shifting scenario. 


“God grant me the wisdom to recognize when I am faced with a potentially mood shifting scenario.  Allow me to keep my eyes fixed on you in my response.”

Jennifer Stokes

Brooklyn, New York


  1. Thank you for this reminder to put all of my emotions and thoughts under the Lordship of Jesus Christ! As I allow God to direct my every action, I will be God's partner in the great work of ushering in the Reign of God on Earth, as it is in Heaven! What GOOD NEWS! :-)

    Yolanda Lehman

  2. I agree, to keep my mind and mouth in check! That would serve so many purposes.