We are looking at John chapter 3 — Yeshua is finished talking to Nicodemus, and the scene shifts to the Judean countryside where Yeshua and His disciples are baptizing.
In a comment on 3:22-30 The Pillar New Testament Commentary states, "This is the fourth successive section to point out ways in which Yeshua fulfills and surpasses Judaism: in 2:1-11, Jesus provides new wine that vastly surpasses anything that contemporary Judaism could afford, and renders obsolete the stone jars of purification; in 2:12-25, Jesus displaces the temple and thereby intimates that the temple's proper role is best seen as an anticipation of the ultimate point of mediation between God and man; in 3:1-21, Jesus fulfills prophecies of a 'water and spirit' regeneration, and proves in his death to be the ultimate antitype of the snake 'lifted up' in the desert; and hence (3:22-30) Jesus surpasses John the Baptist and any baptism or rite of purification he may represent."
There are some who suggest that the paragraphs in this section, 22-36 are out of order. Several "solutions" have been proposed to fix this so called problem. The simplest suggestion is that of reversing the order of verses 22-30 and verses 31-36. That way, verses 31-36 would follow on the Nicodemus discourse. The conflict between disciples of John the Baptist and of Yeshua mentioned in verses 22-30 would flow naturally into chapter 4. Others suggest inserting verses 31-36 between 3:12 and 3:13. A still more radical suggestion is to insert verses 31-36 between 2:12 and 2:13. But in my view none of these "solutions" are necessary if we can allow Lazarus to write his Gospel using his logic and outline rather than what we think it should be. So we'll just assume that Lazarus got it right and take it as it is.
Our text for this morning is the final testimony of John the Baptist. Before we look at John's last testimony in this Gospel, let me remind you of Yeshua's testimony about John:
As these men were going away, Yeshua began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? "But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. Matthew 11:7-9 NASB
So Yeshua says that John is a prophet, but more than a prophet. Is John an Old Covenant prophet or a New Covenant prophet? John is the last Old Covenant prophet:
"Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Matthew 11:11 NASB
That is a pretty glowing recommendation, especially since it comes from Yeshua. So John was a very special man. And these are his final words in this Gospel:
After these things Yeshua and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. John 3:22 NASB
"After these things"—after what things? Well Yeshua and His disciples had been in Jerusalem, we saw Him cleanse the Temple in the end of chapter 2. Then in chapter 3 we saw His conversation with Nicodemus, which was also in Jerusalem.
Now, "Yeshua and His disciples came into the land of Judea"—they went out of the town, that's what it means. They went into the countryside. The expression "after these things" gives no indication of the length of the interval. At some point "after these things" they went out into the countryside of Judea.
Where is Judea? Israel was divided into three regions back then. Judea was in the South and included Jerusalem; north of Judea was Samaria; and north of Samaria was the region of Galilee, which included the Sea of Galilee. After conquering Israel, the Romans created the Roman province of Judea, which included Samaria, Judea ,and Idumea, a non-Jewish region immediately south of Judea. So, "Judea" referred both to an Israeli region and to a Roman province that was about three times larger than Judea, the region. The "land of Judea" refers to the region, so Yeshua and His disciples had left Jerusalem but hadn't gone far.
"There He was spending time with them and baptizing"—this is the only record in the Gospels that Yeshua engaged in a baptizing ministry similar to John the Baptist's. But chapter 4 specifies that He Himself did not perform the rite, but left it to His disciples:
Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Yeshua was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Yeshua Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), John 4:1-2 NASB
The reason that Lazarus puts it this way is that evidently the disciples themselves were performing the act, but Yeshua was taking the responsibility for it. So they were His agents in the performance of the acts of baptism. So His disciples were baptizing because they were baptizing under His authority and direction.
What kind of baptism would Yeshua and His disciples be doing? This was not "Christian's baptism" but a baptism expressing repentance:
From that time Yeshua began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 4:17 NASB
Yeshua's preaching centered on the same theme John the Baptist preached:
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:1-2 NASB
So during this time, Yeshua and John had parallel ministries, in that they both were baptizing, and both were preaching repentance. John moved from the South to the North, leaving Yeshua to baptize in the area not distant from Jerusalem.
When did Yeshua's disciples begin the baptism unto Christ? That didn't happen until after the resurrection when Yeshua commands them:
And Yeshua came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 NASB
In what order does Yeshua command the apostles and disciples to take the Gospel message to humanity?:
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Acts 1:8 NASB
They are commanded to take the Gospel first to the Jews, and next to the Samaritans, and finally to the Gentile nations of the earth. Remember this order as we look at the next chapter.
"Yeshua and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them"—this is discipleship! A disciple would spend his entire time listening and observing the teacher to know how to understand the Scripture and how to put it into practice. He didn't have discipleship classes, he lived with and observed the Rabbi. We can do this today. We can spend time with Him, in His Word and in prayer. If we are His disciple, we are called to be like Him.
John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized— John 3:23 NASB
At this stage in his ministry John seems to be moving up and down the Jordan River offering baptism for the repentance of sins. Aenon is an Aramaic word meaning: "wells." Salim was located to the northeast of Samaria and so this may be a site about 7 miles south of Scythopolis (also called Beisan) near the western bank of the Jordan and about 13 miles to the south of the Sea of Galilee. But both of these places are in Samaria. So John went North and Yeshua went into the regions around Jerusalem and Judea.
So John is still ministering and preaching repentance, and preaching that the Messiah had come and telling them who He was and baptizing those who repented. And Yeshua began to do that as well—preach repentance, preach the Kingdom, declare Himself the Messiah, and baptize people. Their ministries overlap for a while, of necessity, because there's a transition going on. John, the Old Covenant prophet, will fade away now that the Messiah has arrived.
John then interjects a parenthetical explanation:
for John had not yet been thrown into prison. John 3:24 NASB
Why did Lazarus feel that his readers needed to know this? Isn't it obvious that if John is baptizing that he hasn't been thrown in prison? The reason that Lazarus adds this is because his Gospel was written decades after the other 3 Gospels, which many of his readers had probably already read. They might have questioned why his account of Yeshua's ministry didn't match that of the other Gospel writers, at this point. The other 3 all started from the beginning of Yeshua's ministry in Galilee, after John the Baptist had been arrested. Lazarus' account of Yeshua's ministry doesn't start in Galilee, but in Jerusalem, with John the Baptist "not yet being thrown in prison" and still involved in ministry.
So to avoid confusion, Lazarus explained in his Gospel that he was describing Yeshua's earlier ministry, in and around Judea, before He migrated north to Galilee. During that period, about which Matthew, Mark, and Luke say nothing, John the Baptist was preaching in Samaria as Christ ministered in nearby Judea.
From the Fourth Gospel alone do we learn that between Yeshua's temptation and
John the Baptist's arrest, John and Yeshua baptized at the same time.
Now after John had been taken into custody, Yeshua came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:14-15 NASB
Only from Lazarus do we learn about this earlier time when both John and Yeshua were ministering at the same time. Both of them seem to be doing the same thing—baptizing repentant Jews. John continued preaching and baptizing until Herod Antipas imprisoned him.
Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purification. John 3:25 NASB
The word "discussion" here is from the Greek word zetesis, which is a strong term for "controversy" or "confrontation." The ancient manuscripts are divided among those that read Jew (singular) and Jews (plural). The intrinsic probability favors the singular reading as the modern versions show.
The identity of the Jew debating John's disciples is not revealed, but that they are debating the practice of purification is an indication of the importance placed on ritual purification in the Old Covenant faith. The Jew may be arguing for the superiority of the Jewish ceremonial cleansing. The word for purification used here is the same word used in 2:6 describing the stone water jars. The real point at issue is the authority of Yeshua to "overturn" the system of ritual purification within Judaism.
We don't have many details about what went on here other than what is in the text. It obviously fired up John's disciples because they go running back to him:
And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him." John 3:26 NASB
John the Baptist's disciples seem upset that "everyone" is going to Yeshua. By implication that would mean that no one is coming to them. Yeshua's popularity was increasing and John's was fading:
Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Yeshua was making and baptizing more disciples than John John 4:1 NASB
And apparently John's disciples began to worry about the implications of this on the one they loved. It seems that John's disciples had developed a very partisan attitude out of their loyalty to him. For some time, he had been the star attraction whom people had come from miles around, to see and hear. Remember what we saw earlier in this Gospel:
There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. John 1:6 NASB
In introducing John the Baptist, Lazarus stressed that "God" had "sent" him. And John was having great success. Notice what Mark tells us about this man:
And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Mark 1:5 NASB
John came out of the desert, preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit, and Judea and all Jerusalem, in fact all the country round about, went out to hear John. There was a huge revival movement. This is confirmed by Josephus, the Jewish historian, when he says: "Many flocked to him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words…" But now John's ministry is fading and his disciples are concerned.
"To whom you have testified"—they don't mention Yeshua's name. I think this shows their jealousy. The tense of the Greek word for "testified" implies that John the Baptist had testified to Yeshua in the past and was still testifying to Him. In fact, he will continue to testify to Yeshua in verses 27-30.
"All are coming to Him"—this is one of the many places in the New Testament where the word "all" does not refer to everyone. This sounds like what the Pharisees said in:
So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, "You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him." John 12:17-19 NASB
So we see that "all" doesn't always mean everyone, and "world" doesn't mean every single person. What John's disciples were saying was a bit of hyperbole. They were jealous for their Rabbi John and they exaggerated the situation.
It is interesting to note that four of the greatest men in the Bible faced this problem of comparison and competition: Moses—when the Spirit came on two young men in the camp of Israel so that they prophesied:
Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, "Moses, my lord, restrain them." Numbers 11:28 NASB
Notice Moses' reply to Joshua:
But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD'S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!" Numbers 11:29 NASB
There was no jealousy in Moses, but his disciple, Joshua, had a problem with them doing what his boss did. He saw it as competition.
Yeshua also had this problem with His disciples: John saw someone casting out demons in Yeshua's name and tried to prevent him, because he wasn't part of their group. But Yeshua replied:
But Yeshua said to him, "Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you." Luke 9:50 NASB
Paul also faced this problem. Paul was in prison, and others were becoming bold in his absence and beginning to preach the Gospel, and this was troubling Paul's disciples:
Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will… 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. Philippians 1:15-17 NASB
Some were preaching to cause Paul distress. But Paul says, "Don't worry about me":
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, Philippians 1:18 NASB
This is the same thing we see with John the Baptizer. Sometimes a man's disciples are more zealous for his reputation than he is. John's disciples were jealous for him, which seems a little strange considering John's ministry. He made it clear that he was a voice preparing the way for the King:
He said, "I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,' as Isaiah the prophet said." John 1:23 NASB
So I have to ask," Why were these men still following John? Why were his disciples even with him? Why weren't they following the Lord?" Their Rabbi was pointing them to Christ, but they keep following him. The Lord had John put to death by Herod. But even that didn't stop some of John's followers.
It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." Acts 19:1-3 NASB
In verse 1 they are called "disciples" and in verse 2 it says that they "believed." So many have assumed that these men are Christians. But they do not have the Holy Spirit, and they therefore cannot be Christians. What these men believed was the message of John the Baptist. This is about A.D. 56/57, some twenty years after our Lord's death, and there are still disciples of John the Baptizer. This is crazy considering John's message:
Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Yeshua." Acts 19:4 NASB
John's whole message was, "Believe in Yeshua!":
John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. John 3:27 NASB
John is saying that his God-given role was as a voice. His calling from God was to point to Yeshua, who was Messiah. He can do nothing outside of the role that God has called him to. That truth applies to all spiritual matters, including our salvation. Pilate thought that he had authority over Christ:
So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" John 19:10 NASB
Notice what Yeshua tells him:
Yeshua answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." John 19:11 NASB
The only authority anyone has is that given to them by Yahweh. As a matter of fact, anything we have, we only have from His hand.
For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 1 Corinthians 4:7 NASB
Yahweh is sovereign over all. Anything we have is from Him. Augustine said in one of his works on predestination, "You know I used to think that all of the blessings of life came from my faith. I thought that I was responsible for my faith. I read a statement in Ciprium, and Ciprium said, we couldn't have anything that was not given us by God. You know that started me thinking. And my thoughts came to 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 7 where the Apostle Paul writes something quite similar. For Paul there writes, 'What do you have that you haven't received? And if you've received it, why are you boasting in it as if you're the source' What do we have that we have not received? I began to see that all of my blessings came from God and even my faith, which I thought was the source of all of my blessing which was mine, I really saw it as not mine but as something given me by God."
Please grasp the significance of what John is saying here, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. He goes on to say:
"You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.' John 3:28 NASB
John's disciples were his witnesses, they had heard this over and over. John said this is chapter 1:
And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." John 1:20 NASB
John couldn't be much clearer about this, he says it over and over. John 1:8: "He is not the light." John 1:21: "He is not Elijah and not the prophet." John 1:23: "He is just a voice crying in the wilderness." John 1:27:" He is not worthy to unstrap Yeshua's sandals." And lots more. John humbled himself and exalted Christ.
"He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. John 3:29 NASB
Weddings in first century Judaism worked something like this. After the marriage has been agreed upon, the bridegroom began to build a room for himself and his bride by adding three walls and a roof to one of the walls of his father's house. Since he also had to farm or work his trade full time, this construction took up to a year, during which time the bride and the bridegroom were "betrothed" to one another; a formal divorce was required to terminate a betrothal, which was more binding than today's "engagement." When the bridegroom had finished building the room, he came calling for his bride, hence the "voice" in John 3:29. A wedding feast would then ensue, and he would take his bride to her new home to consummate their marriage. John is saying that Yeshua is the bridegroom, those who believe in Him are His bride, and he is only a friend of the bridegroom. When the bridegroom comes calling for his maiden bride, any feeling for jealousy by his friend would be inappropriate. He should feel nothing but complete "joy" for his friend and his friend's bride.
"The friend of the bridegroom"—this term seems to have been more appropriate to Judea. Biblical historians tell us that Galilee did not have quite the same marriage customs as the Judeans. The Synoptic Gospels use the phrase "children of the bridechamber" [see Matthew 9:15 and Mark 2:19], which may reflect this difference. In Judea it was the custom for two groomsmen to be in attendance with the bridal couple, one for the bridegroom and the other for the bride. Before the marriage they acted as intermediaries for the families of the betrothed couple. At the wedding the groomsmen offered gifts, they attended the bride and groom during the 7 days of feasting, and they even escorted them to the bridal chamber. It was the duty of the "friend of the bridegroom" to present the groom to his bride at the wedding ceremony and after the marriage to maintain proper terms between the parties. The Rabbinical writings describe the Archangels Michael and Gabriel as acting as the friends of the bridegroom to Adam and Eve at the first wedding in Salvation history in the Garden of Eden. The writings of the Rabbis also identify Moses as the "friend of the bridegroom" who leads out the bride, Israel, to meet the groom, Yahweh, at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:17). John the Baptist presents himself as fulfilling the same function for Yeshua.
According to expositor, J.C. Ryle, the friend of the groom was the means of communication between him and the prospective bride during the period of their courtship. His job was to promote the bridegroom's interests by explaining his feelings to her, and trying to remove any obstacles that might interfere with a marriage between the two of them. In the process, this "friend" might come to know the lady well enough to become her confidant, and there was at times the risk of a romance developing between them. But the friend's allowing this happen, was considered an ultimate betrayal of the bridegroom's friendship, even as far back as Samson's time (Judg 14:20), whose "friend"/companion married his fiancé. There is good evidence that in ancient Sumerian and Babylonian law the best man was absolutely prohibited from marrying the bride.
John is in effect saying, "I'm the forerunner of the Messiah, I'm announcing that the bridegroom has come and that the bride is going to be united to the bridegroom. So John then likens himself to the one who is announcing to Israel the fact that her bridegroom has come and that she's to be united to Him. And he's calling individuals to spiritual preparation for that great marriage.
In the Tanakh, Yahweh is often pictured as the bridegroom (or husband) and Israel as His bride. For example, in Isaiah Yahweh tells Israel:
"For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5 NASB
For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5 NASB
In Hosea 2:16, the Lord tells Israel that in the future, they will call Yahweh, "My husband." He promises in Hosea 2:19, "I will betroth you to Me forever…"
James Boice makes this point, "Now, if Yahweh is Israel's bridegroom in the Old Testament, and John the Baptist proclaims Jesus as Israel's bridegroom here, then it's an affirmation that Jesus is Yahweh. Jesus is God. Whether or not John the Baptist put the two halves of this equation together, it is evident that the Apostle John through the Holy Spirit wants us to put them together: If God is the bridegroom, and Jesus is the bridegroom, then Jesus is God." (James Boice, The Gospel of John [Zondervan], one-volume edition, p. 223.)
"So this joy of mine has been made full"—the Greek tense suggests that John's joy was fulfilled at a point of time in the past and that it continues to be fulfilled. The noun "joy" and verb "rejoice" are used three times in this verse. Instead of having a competitive spirit, John the Baptist obviously recognized his place and rejoiced in Yeshua.
You can't have joy without humility. Because proud people are always thinking they deserve more, they never have joy:
Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman also said, "Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king. "Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate." Esther 5:11-13 NASB
He could not enjoy what he had because his pride would not let him. As long as Mordecai didn't bow to him he could have no joy. I'm sure you know the rest of the story; Haman's pride led to his destruction.
When asked what were the three most important Christian virtues, Augustine replied, "Humility, humility, and humility." Yet, this great virtue is in rather short supply in our culture. Pride is an issue we all face, so how do we deal with it?
Humility is first a feeling toward God that He has absolute rights over your life— that He can do with you as He pleases, and that He has absolute authority to tell you what is best for you, and that's just fine with you. It is a spirit of utter yieldedness and submissiveness to the Lord as master. The humble person sees himself as clay in the Potter's hands.
Secondly, humility means feeling indebted to all people because of how graciously God has treated us. It's the opposite of feeling that everybody owes you something—owes you an ear or owes you strokes or owes you time. Now, of course, there are relationships in which those things may be true—someone may in fact owe you something. But the more you are driven by what others owe you rather than by what you owe them in love and service, the less humble you are.
Man lives in dependance upon God, and understanding this is humility. Pride is: "self-sufficient." This will affect our attitude towards our fellow man, because if we are conscience of our entire dependence on God for all our abilities, we will not pride ourselves on them.
Andrew Murray wrote, "Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil."("Humility: The Beauty of Holiness" [Christian Literature Crusade], p. 12)
John had great joy because he was a humble man who realized his ministry was given to him by Yahweh. He wasn't jealous or competitive. He was a humble servant:
"He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 NASB
The term "must" (dei) here is significant. Literally, it reads, "It is necessary for Him to increase and for me to decrease." The phrase, "It is necessary," was a frequent expression in Judaism to describe God's will. It is sometimes referred to as divine necessity. It is a strong affirmation of John's understanding of himself as simply a forerunner of the greater and more significant ministry of Yeshua.
This text that we have looked at today represents the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, as the last Old Covenant prophet is superceded by Yeshua, the Messiah; the great Moses-like prophet promised in Deut 18:15.
John's "decreasing" was simply part of the end of the old dispensation, in which he was a prophet, the final days of the Old Covenant. But John rejoiced in the knowledge that the New Covenant was about to come into its own.
"He must increase, but I must decrease" needs to be the desire of each of our hearts. That by our lives Christ would increase, and we would decrease. When William Carey was dying, he turned to a friend and said, "When I'm gone, don't talk about William Carey, talk about William Carey's Savior. I desire that Christ alone might be magnified."
The only way that Christ will increase, and we will decrease is when we have spent much time with Him in fellowship. We need to get off by ourselves and be alone with the Lord for a while.
Notice what our Lord told Martha:
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42 NASB
Mary has correctly discerned that listening to Yeshua and learning His ways is more important than anything else she can choose. Listening to what Yeshua is teaching is the highest way to show Him honor, and preferable to any human way we seek to honor Him. The one thing that Yeshua seeks above all else is that you spend time with Him, "sitting at His feet," as it were. That needs to come first; before all these other things.
He will increase, and we will decrease as we spend time in His Word learning of Him. Let me say this as we close. It's important to remember that being a faithful servant of the Lord does not guarantee a trouble-free life. John the Baptist was the faithful, humble God-appointed forerunner of Messiah, but he got thrown into prison and had his head cut off in his early thirties.