John the Baptizer Exalts Christ

After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.

25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 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!”

27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 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. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” — John 3:22-36.

Jesus and His disciples identify with the work of John the Baptist, later to be imprisoned and beheaded. By being with John as he baptizes, Jesus identifies with and ratifies the John’s calls to repent. Through His disciples’ involvement in baptism, Jesus is said to baptize, though He personally baptizes no one, as the next chapter reveals.

Some of John’s disciples resent the fact that people are flocking to Jesus, where He, through His disciples, is baptizing. John is quick to show that his role is only as the ‘best man’ at the wedding, and that the bridegroom must be center stage. That bridegroom is Christ. John says, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease,’ (v.30) and focuses on Jesus, who has come from heaven as the co-equal Son. Jesus alone can give everlasting life to those who believe in Him. He alone can turn people from the wrath of God, which abides on those who will not trust in Christ. The Son is the supreme and unique Saviour.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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