Once again, I ask if you could reply to the email I sent saying the post was now available for viewing or post a comment, that would help me know who is still participating in this online study. If you did this last week, you don’t need to do it again. I didn’t get a very large number of people responding. Thank you. Pastor Harry
Read John 3:22-36
22After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. 24(This was before John was put in prison.) 25An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan — the one you testified about — well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."
27To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' 29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30He must become greater; I must become less.
31"The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (NIV)
As we look at this passage, we see several things happening. John is giving John the Baptist his rightful place as the forebearer to Jesus. John the Baptist had a purpose and he fulfilled that, to prepare the way for the Lord. This passage also shows the humility of John the Baptist in that calling. He was willing to see the people leave him to follow Jesus. But we see that this did not sit with will his disciples as they argued that everyone was going somewhere else. We cannot fault them as they were sticking up for their teacher who they had been following.
But we see several things in this passage. The first is that we see the overlapping of John the Baptist’s ministry and Jesus’ ministry. John’s is declining as Jesus’ is growing. This is what John wanted to see. All too many follower’s rolls in this life are not to be the “rock star,” but to do what God called them to do. More spiritual gifts are given as helping gifts than what some would call in front of the people gifts, “preaching, teaching, and apostle.” But all gifts are needed for God’s purpose to be fulfilled on earth.
And so, we see that John tells his disciples three things. First, he says that this is exactly what he expected to come from his work. It was not a lifelong calling to have disciples, but to point the way. Second, he reminds them that none of us can receive more than God gives us. (vs 27) This is a powerful lesson for each of us to learn. We need to understand that God gives as God sees fit. And we need to see that if someone is succeeding for God, we should not be jealous of that work. Our jealousies can have a way of hurting the work of the Kingdom.
And third, he brings up an image that all would readily see. He compares it to a wedding and that he is the friend of the bridegroom. This person was the “shosben” who had very specific duties in the planning of the wedding as well as being the liaison between the bride and groom. He says that the bridegroom belongs to the bride, not the friend. Jesus belongs to the people of Israel and he is for that. The “shosben’s final act was to guard the bridal chamber and allow only the bridegroom in. Since it was usually dark, the friend would recognize the bridegroom’s voice. Once the bridegroom was let in, his job was done and he left rejoicing for his friend. This is a wonderful way to view our work, we are satisfied when do what we are called, not how it compares to others.
And then John moves into John the Baptist discussion about things from heaven. Her John once again points to who Jesus is. He is the one and only. He speaks to what he has seen and heard in heaven and is the one God sent. John in his Gospel is very clear about who Jesus is and in vs 36 puts forth a decision that must be made. It is the purpose of his writing, to make a choice to say yes to Jesus and receive life or to reject him. There is no middle ground.
One question that comes to mind is how do we perceive our own calling by God. Do we wish for more? Are we satisfied that we have something to do and that something is important? I truly believe, how we think about our work affects how we do that work.
Blessings and Peace