One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 1:12

Right after this, Paul says that he is thankful that he didn’t baptize many people. This implies that baptism had become a bit of a sign of “fellowship” or “discipleship.” You have to remember that this Jesus movement was still pretty new at the time of this writing. They didn’t even consistently call each other “Christians” yet. In some sense, they were still figuring out what following Jesus really meant. So, it is no wonder that when Cephas baptized you, the average person might just assume that they became a follower of Cephas. However, Paul is correcting this misunderstanding by saying, it doesn’t matter who baptized you because ultimately we all follow Christ.

This misunderstanding about baptism got me thinking about the most famous baptizer in the Bible, John the Baptist. I wonder if John would have been in this list if he were still alive in the 40s? I wonder if people would have bragged about being baptized by “Mr. The Baptist” himself? After all, he even baptized Jesus, so that sorta puts him in the Baptizing Hall of Fame! In fact, in the ranking of “greatest baptism moments of all time,” I don’t think anything will ever beat the time when the voice of the Father spoke while the Holy Spirit descended as a dove onto the only begotten Son of God! Who could ever hope for a more powerful baptism service than that?

However, as I considered John, it became clear to me that he would not have ever made a list like this. Not because he didn’t have followers, in fact, John was probably the more famous prophet in those days anyway. I don’t think John would make this list because he seemed to understand his role as a leader. At the peak of his influence, he recognized the principle that: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). This is the attitude that all leaders need to have. In fact, as followers, we need to look for leaders who are not the self-increasing type of leaders, but who are always decreasing so that Jesus may increase. By the grace of God, this is the kind of leadership that I have witnessed here at Emmanuel Faith over the years. I pray that I would live up to John’s model as well and that our church would continue to make Jesus increase!

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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