About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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John The Baptistís Testimony About Jesus  (ch. 3:22-36)

 

Part of what John speaks of in this section concerns John the Baptist and the deity of Jesus.  It's my belief to date that John wrote this account near the end of the first century.  At that time there were some controversies over the historicity of John the Baptist.  I believe this is why John wrote more about John the Baptist than the other gospel writers.   

 

We note in verses 22 and 23 that Jesus went out into the Judean countryside.  Judea was a Roman province.  Jesus then went into Galilee, which was also a Roman province, which is farther north of Judea .  Jesus therefore left Jerusalem and headed north. 

 

We also note that John the Baptist was still preaching and baptizing.  So, the ministry of John and Jesus overlapped for a period of time.  We don't see this overlapping as clearly in the other three gospel accounts.   It is important, if you want to understand the chronology of events in the life of Jesus, to understand that this section of John predates John the Baptist's death.

 

In verse 22 we see that Jesus spent some time with His disciples in Judea .  While spending this time John says the words "and baptized."  From this verse alone we might think that Jesus baptized people, but I am not convinced that Jesus baptized anyone because John 4:2 suggests, or, even says, that He did not baptize anyone.  That makes sense because as we have already seen, John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, and not with water.  His time for baptizing with the Holy Spirit had not yet come.

 

In verse 23 we learn that John the Baptist was still baptizing.  He was doing so in a place that is called Aenon.  Although there is debate over just where this town was, I think the majority view is that it was in Samaria, the province immediately north of Judea .  

 

In verse 25 John tells us that a certain Jew questioned John the Baptist.  An argument broke forth between John's disciples and this Jew over ceremonial washings.  By this time in history Judaism was a religion of legalism.  There were many rules to follow; many concerned washing of pots, pans, utensils, hands, and most everything else. 

 

In verse 26 this certain Jew told John the Baptist that Jesus baptizing people as well.  We have a bit of a problem here.  I've already said that Jesus baptized no one because in John 4:2 it says that it was His disciples that actually did the baptizing, not Jesus Himself.  So, how should we understand what this Jew is saying here?  I suggest that it might be possible that this Jew was not being accurate in what he was saying.  On the other hand and in one sense of the word, because Jesus' disciples were baptizing on behalf of Jesus, one might say that Jesus was baptizing.  

 

This Jew seemed concern that people were now beginning to flock to Jesus instead of John.  Of course, this was what was supposed to happen.  Again, we see an overlapping of ministry here between Jesus and John that the other gospel accounts don't clearly show.

 

John was not concerned about him losing popularity.  He understood that this was part of his job and ministry.  The first thing John says in response is that "a man can receive only what is given him from Heaven."  This is interesting.  John was given a certain ministry from Heaven.  It wasnít a long lasting and well paying ministry.  Right from the beginning it involved preaching about someone else that would diminish his own ministry.  This was Godís ministry given to Him.  John realized something important.  If God does not give you the ministry, then you donít have it.  The problem with many modern Christians is that we invent our own ministry.  This should never be the case.  John the Baptist did not believe in any type of ministry that was outside of Godís giving. 

 

In verse 28 John the Baptist reminded this Jew and anyone else listening that he had already said that he was not the Christ.  He was the forerunner to the Christ.  He was to announce His arrival and that he did.

 

In verse 28 John the Baptist compares himself to a friend of a bridegroom.  When the bridegroom is ready to wed the bride, then the friend of the groom is full of joy.  That was Johnís perspective.  He was full of joy.  The groom had finally come, ready for His bride.  He was announcing the soon to come wedding and that made John very happy.   It was time for him to set himself aside and let Jesus take the pre-eminence.  This shows us the humble man that John the Baptist was.  He knew his job and when it was complete, he was full of joy that he had accomplished what he had set out to do.    

 

At this point I should address what John says about the bride and the bridegroom.  Jesus is obviously the bridegroom, but who is the bride.  I believe that there is a common misconception in Evangelical circles who whom the bride is.  Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that the church is the Bride of Christ.  If that is so, who is the Bride of Christ?

 

John 1:11 tells us that Jesus came unto His own people.  His own people are the Jews of His day.  Jesus' main ministry was to Israelis, not Gentiles.  John the Baptist, the friend of the groom, introduced Israelis to Jesus.  Once the introduction was made John would step back and let Jesus take over. 

 

If you read the book of Hosea you will see that God viewed Himself as Israel 's wife.  Even though the book of Hosea states that God divorced Israel , Hosea also predicts the day when God would remarry Israel .  Jesus came to earth to marry Israel .  Israel is the Bride of Christ.  Israel refused this marriage, but the wedding will take place, as I believe is seen in the book of Revelation.  The church is not the Bride of Christ.  Israel is the Bride of Christ. 

 

Isaiah 54:5 and Jeremiah 3:14 also state that God is the husband of Israel .  The marriage that John the Baptist was speaking about was in fact a remarriage between Jesus and Israel .      

 

It seems to me that the anti-Jewish stance the church slowly adopted in the third and fourth century and beyond removed the concept that the Israel was the Bride of Christ.  The church unfairly substituted itself for Israel .  It's called Replacement Theology.      

 

Again in verse 30, we see that John knows his place in the economy of God.  It was time for John to decrease and it was time for Jesus to increase.     

 

I believe the pronoun "He" in verse 31 is in reference to Jesus.  Jesus speaks what He hears what His Father tell Him to speak.  John the Baptist says that "the one who is from above is above all, but the one who is from earth speaks as one from earth."  Clearly, Jesus is the One from above and He is above all men, including John the Baptist who is from the earth.  John is from earth and can speak only as one from earth.  This is important for those who preach and teach the gospel.  Those in this position must realize that even though they teach and preach a heavenly gospel, they arenít from Heaven as Jesus was from Heaven. There is One that they submit to who knows and understands all things.  We on the other hand only know and understand in part and should act accordingly.

 

In verse 32 John the Baptist also says that no one accepts the testimony of Jesus.  I see this as more of a prediction than anything else.  At this point in Jesus' ministry He has not been around along enough for people to either accept Him or reject Him.  

 

In verse 33 John the Baptist says that the man who accepts his message believes that God is truthful. From my understanding of the Greek text here I believe what John is saying is that anyone who receives Jesus' testimony has set his seal on the fact that Jesus' testimony is true.  The Greek word "sphragizo" is translated into English here as "certified."  It speaks to the fact of what Jesus is saying is reality.   

 

In verse 34 what John the Baptist says needs some thought.  He says "that the one who God has sent," that is Jesus, "speaks Godís Word."  This means that what Jesus says comes straight from God.  From our study of John 1:1 that should be clear, because Jesus is GodĎs mind, Godís thoughts in a human body.  Jesus speaks what is on God's mind. 

 

The reason John the Baptist gives for Jesus speaking Godís Word is because "God gives the Spirit without limit."  This is a tough one to figure out.  When John the Baptist says that God does not give the Spirit without limit, is he saying this in a general sense?  That is to say, does God not give His Spirit without limit to us, or, does He not give the Spirit without limit just to Jesus? 

 

It's obvious to me that God does not put limits on the Holy Spirit when it comes to Jesus because that's an impossibility.  In one sense of the word, Jesus is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is called the "Spirit of Christ" in a number of places in the New Testament.  For this reason the Holy Spirit is not limited in the life of Jesus. 

 

If, however, John the Baptist is saying that God does not give the Holy Spirit without limit to the believer, then we as believers have access to all that the Holy Spirit has for us.  We have access to all that the Holy Spirit can do through us.  Still, if John the Baptist is simply speaking of Jesus and His relation to the Holy Spirit, then I might suggest that the Holy Spirit can be given to us human believers in some limited capacity.  The reason for this may be that we are human and that there is more to the Holy Spirit than what one human body can contain and handle.   

 

All of the above being said, I need more understanding to what John the Baptist is saying in this verse.  As it stands right now, I believe that God gives the Spirit to Jesus without measure, but to us He gives the Spirit with measure as He also gives faith to us in measure as seen in Romans 12:3.

 

In verse 35 John the Baptist says that Jesus has been given everything by His Father.  I believe this means that God the Father has place Jesus in a position of final authority over all things, both spiritual and material.  Therefore, Jesus is in charge until such time that He has put all things under his feet and then He will hand all things back over to the Father and the Father will then be the final authority over all things, both spiritual and material.  This is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:27 and 58.    

It is interesting in verse 35 that John the Baptist clearly understands that Jesus is in fact the very Son of God.

 

This chapter concludes in verse 36 that whosoever believes, or whosoever gives his life to Jesus, will have eternal life.  Again, we must understand the word "believe" to be more than mental assent to the fact of the reality of Jesus.  Believe here means to hand you life over to the Lord Jesus Christ.  If you reject Jesus, the wrath of God remains on you.  Forever throughout eternity Godís wrath will constantly be poured on you.  This is a very scary and serious matter. 

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