John 3:22–36—John the Baptist Points to Jesus, again
22 Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.
23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
31 “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. 32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them!33 Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. 34 For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
Points of Interest
- ‘Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people’—We’ve seen Jesus at work in his home in Galilee, and in the capital Jerusalem. Now he moves on to the major center of Jewish population, the less urban parts of Judea. This is John the Baptist’s country, and Jesus is sort of doing John the Baptist’s thing.
- ‘You yourselves know how plainly I told you’—as far as John is concerned, the fact that people are leaving him to follow Jesus is no reason for alarm. In fact, it’s a sign of success. All he has ever tried to do is introduce people put Jesus.
- ‘how few believe what he tells them’—far from being disappointed at how many people are abandoning him for Jesus, John the Baptist is disappointed at how few people are accepting what Jesus is offering.
- ‘God gives him the Spirit without limit’—apparently, John the Baptist needs to move around just to ensure that he has enough water for baptizing. Jesus will never run out of the Holy Spirit he uses for his baptism. John the Baptist has experienced the Holy Spirit only in small drops here and there. Jesus is filled to capacity, and has plenty in which to shower other people around him as well. It’s a whole new experience of God.
- ‘has put everything into his hands’—Jesus has been given the keys to the car (cf. John 13:3).
- ‘will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment’—Jesus offers limitless connection with the living God through the Holy Spirit. But if you reject the offer, there’s nothing he can do for you; you’re left out in the cold.
Taking It Home
- For you: You can imagine John’s disciples felt a little offended at and slightly jealous of Jesus. From their perspective, they were losing business and popularity and not getting the respect they deserved. Is there a situation in your life where you feel like you’re being overlooked or not getting the credit you deserve? Maybe you used to be the star, and now there’s a new kid in town. John the Baptist’s tells his disciples that Jesus has something better to offer, even if it means they don’t get credit. Ask Jesus to show you what better offer he has for you.
- For your 6: As Jesus moves quickly from place to place and thing to thing, he somehow manages to carve out time with the people he is closest to. Time is not an easy thing to come by these days. Ask God to give your 6 time to both do the things they love the most and spend time with people they care about the most. Also, ask and look for quality time to spend with your 6.
- For our church: Ask God to give our church John’s gift of preparing a way for others. Ask God to make our church a place where people are prepared to do what God is ultimately calling them to do. Pray that our church would have a humble spirit and be a place that is ‘filled with joy’ at anyone’s success and growth in God.