The first touchscreen phone the world had ever seen was released by IBM in August, 1994. Simon was not just for making calls. With a novel software platform and apps, it could be used as a calendar, address book and note pad. BellSouth sold about 50,000 units in late ’94 and early ’95.
I bet you’ve never heard of Simon.
John the Baptizer was revolutionary! Everything about this guy was unique – his hair, clothes, diet. People walked miles into the wilderness to check him out; many repented and were baptized. The goal of a leader is to develop a following, mentor his own disciples and build a name for himself, right?
The last 15 verses of John 3 tell a story set in the Judean desert. The disciples of the Baptizer point out to John that they have competition. A guy named Jesus is growing in popularity. His disciples are baptizing. People are turning their backs on John and following Jesus. John’s disciples are worried that the crowds will abandon them. They are afraid of obscurity.
The reason you have never heard of Simon is in 2007 another touchscreen phone was released. It was a tool for communication, entertainment, navigation, social networking and more. The iPhone took what Simon introduced and pushed it ahead a generation. The world was irreversibly changed - how many times a day do you check your smartphone?
We can pull four points out of the response that the Baptizer had to Jesus. First: everything we are and have is a gift from above (John 3:27). 1 Corinthians 4:7 is a parallel passage. We are stewards. Grateful for what we’ve received, we invest our time, talents and treasure for the Kingdom of God.
The second point John makes is that he is SENT (John 3:28). The one who is sent is a representative of the sender. Imagine Pony Express riders in 1861 carrying Lincoln’s inaugural address to the west coast. What an incredible privilege to participate in delivering that message! Young men raced west with the priceless text, passing the Mochila from horse to horse. They were sent. John the Baptizer was sent. You and I are sent. Carry the message!
John identifies himself as a “friend of the groom” (John 3:29). This is something like being the best man. I’m sure we lose context because weddings were a whole different celebration 2,000 years ago. His point is that this special day is all about the bride and groom. Jesus described himself as the groom and the church as his bride. The groom is here; our joy is complete!
“He MUST increase and I MUST decrease” (John 3:30). John the Baptizer lived only to pave the way for Jesus, the Savior of the world. His own reputation was secondary. What if the designers of Simon hoped for every American to have the power of the internet in a pocket sized shape with an all-day battery? Those designers would have rejoiced that they could be a precursor to the iPhone. They would have exulted in its success, regardless of the fact that their device was forgotten.
Humility is being focused on something outside myself, a greater purpose worth living and dying for. There is no greater purpose than serving in this kingdom - participating in the rule and reign of king Jesus.