“Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They 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.’ John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.’” (vv. 25-27)

John 3:22-36 Friday 4 July 2014


John's Gospel is presenting Jesus as someone who overturned theold ways of Judaism and brought something new to God's people. Oneof the strongest symbols of this newness was Baptism.

John the Baptist tells us that the reason he came baptizing withwater was to prepare the way for the Messiah so that the Messiahmight be known to God's people (John1:26-31). Even after Jesus has himself been pointed out by John(once John recognised who he was (John1:32-34)) John continues to baptize people, Presumably hispreaching is now even more fervent now that he can tell people who'the one who comes after me' actually is.

In today's passage, we're not sure exactly where Aenon was, orwhat the dispute over purification was about, or who it was with -with 'a Jew' or 'some Jews'. But only one person is baptizing. Andhe's attracting the crowds. (We know also that this one person 'towhom John testified' is not Jesus - as Jesus himself did notbaptize (see John 4:1-2).)

John's disciples want to protect their master's copyright!Perhaps this rival is easier to listen to - especially as John didnot pull any punches in his preaching (see Matthew 3:7-12). But it is not a problem forJohn. If he has shared Christ with this Jew at his Baptism, thenthis Jew will be sharing Christ with those who he himself isbaptizing. Nothing can happen without heaven's blessing.

In any case, John has fulfilled his purpose in showing peoplewho the Messiah is. The Jews saw the Messianic age as beingheralded by God becoming a husband to Israel (Hosea2:16-20). Jesus calls himself the bridegroom in Mark2:19-20 and it is no accident that his first 'sign' takes placeat a wedding banquet (John2:1-11). The best man is always second to the bridegroom. SoJohn's disciples must now focus on Jesus, not him: for the one whocomes from above has eternal life.

To Ponder

  • In what ways are Christians jealous of other Christians today?How might this jealousy be overcome?
  • It seems that everyone who has been baptized in the name ofChrist should share the task of pointing others to Jesus. If youare a baptized Christian, how are you fulfilling that mission?
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