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November 8, 2023

John Part 8

The reason the Apostle John wrote his gospel was to prove that Jesus Christ is God.





John 3:22-36

Scripture: John 3:22-36.

The reason the Apostle John wrote his gospel was to prove that Jesus Christ is God. Jesus was not merely a great man or a good teacher, but the Promised Messiah, the Son of God, part of the triune Godhead. Jesus was God in human flesh. The evidence that John presents includes testimonies from eye witnesses as well as the deeds and words of Jesus Himself. Over the last 2 weeks we heard the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee. Jesus' message to Nicodemus is simple yet direct – “You must be born again.” Jesus lays out for Nicodemus HOW he must be born again, how to be saved – by believing in Jesus Christ. “That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” If you want to go to heaven, if you want to have eternal life, you must believe in Jesus. In other words, you place your life in His hands by an act of your faith. Trust Him completely. Fix all your hope in Him. This message is not intended just for Nicodemus. It’s a message for the entire world, for all of us – “that the world might be saved through Him (thru Jesus).”

Today as we conclude Chapter 3 we cross paths with a man we’ve met before, John the Baptist. We met John back in Chapter 1 where he was baptizing in the Jordan River for the remission of sins. We also talked about him when we studied Matthew. If you will recall his message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “Get ready everyone! The Messiah, the King, is coming!” When John saw Jesus coming, he pointed to Him and said to those standing around, “Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” “There He is!” Now here in Chapter 3 John the Baptist shows up again. [comment on red letters] At the end of Chapter 3 we have the last recorded words of John the Baptist. He offers clear testimony about who he believes Jesus is.

READ John 3:22-23.

After the Passover, Jesus and His disciples travel from Jerusalem into the rural areas of the Judean region. It says that “He remained there with them and was baptizing.” We know from Chapter 4 and verse 2 that Jesus did not do the baptizing Himself, but His disciples did it. Certainly Jesus gave His approval and full support for them to do this. At the same time John the Baptist was still baptizing down in the Jordan River valley (20 mi S of the Sea of Galilee). Some Bible scholars believe Jesus stayed in this area ministering with His disciples for about 6 months.

READ John 3:24.

Why would the Apostle John go to the trouble of mentioning this? Well, in Luke’s Gospel account you have Jesus’ baptism and temptation followed immediately by the imprisonment of John the Baptist. When John the Apostle here says John had not yet been put in prison, he's telling us that the events we are about to read fit in the timeframe between Jesus’ temptation and John’s imprisonment. There was actually a period of time that passed after Jesus’ baptism and temptation where John the Baptist’s ministry continued.

So the scene is set for us. Over here you have John the Baptist baptizing. Just to the south and the west a little bit you have Jesus and His disciples baptizing up in the region of Judea. Both are baptizing for the remission of sins. Only now the crowds that once flocked to the wilderness to hear John the Baptist are now going to hear Jesus. And as we will see John the Baptist had no problem with that. He wants people to go to Jesus. John the Baptist's job was to prepare the way of the Lord and to point people to the Messiah. Ane he’s done that.  

READ John 3:25-26.

John the Baptist's disciples and some Jew (perhaps a Pharisee) had an argument about purification. The actual matter which they debated isn’t what is important. What’s important is that it caused concern with John the Baptist’s disciples. They are discouraged by the reports of Jesus' success and His newfound popularity with the people. So they go to John the Baptist. They say to John, “Hey, you’re losing all the people to that Jesus.” And they are really upset about it. They’re jealous of Jesus. They’re envious of the crowds that Jesus has following Him. And so they run to John the Baptist and question him about it. I love John’s response to them, which turns into a sermon. It begins in verse 27. Notice what a humble person John is. What a great man of God he is. What deep insight the Holy Spirit has given him about Jesus. Listen to his words...

READ John 3:27.

John makes an important point. “Nobody ever received anything except God gave it to them. Any ministry that I have or ever had is because God gave it to me.” John the Baptist is really a wonderful example for us. We need to have this same attitude about ministry that he had. What a blessing it is just to be able to serve God in any capacity, whether as a Bible study teacher or a pastor or in ESL or whatever. And if God ever wants to change my ministry, or move me out and into another direction, then praise His name!  That’s up to Him. I just need to make myself available to be used by God in whatever area and wherever He chooses. And it really does not matter how many people show up. It’s not about numbers. God brings who He wants. It is all about God and not about us.

READ John 3:28.

He says, "Listen, you’ve already heard me say that I am not the Christ. I am not the Messiah, but I was one sent before Him. I've been telling you all along to go over there and see Jesus Christ. He is the Lamb of God. I've been telling you. What are you trying to stir up? I've been telling you all along He’s the one that you need to follow.” Then he proceeds to illustrate this...

READ John 3:29.

In today's terms John the Baptist is saying: “Jesus is the groom. He has the bride. I’m merely the best man.” [I am not expert in Jewish weddings but this is what I’ve heard] In the ceremony the friend of the bridegroom would take the hand of the bride and put the hand of the bride into the hand of the bridegroom. And then they were sent into the bridal chamber. At that point the party is over (so to speak) and everybody goes home. That was the climax of the wedding. The friend of the bridegroom takes the hand of the bride, places it in the bridegroom's hand and his job is done. After that, he just fades out. That was it. And John the Baptist is saying, “that's me.” Jesus Christ is pictured here as the bridegroom, Israel like a bride. John says I've taken the hand of the bride, put it in the hand of the groom. I'm done and it was my joy to do it. The best man doesn't stand around crying. He rejoices. He’s done his job. All the attention, and rightfully so, is heaped onto the bride and the groom.

Notice it says that he “rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice.” My understanding is that at Jewish weddings the bridegroom does not speak until he had received the hand of his bride. And when he speaks this signifies the union. John the Baptist says, “I put the hand there. I heard Him speak. That's the end of my ministry. I’m done.” Aren't you sad, though, John? “Sad? No, I'm blessed. What could be more wonderful than a fruitful ministry? God told me to turn the hearts of the people to God, to bring them to Christ. I did just that and the people are going to Him. What else could I ask for?” John the Baptist was indeed blessed. Oh the characteristic of a true minister who takes the people and hands them over to Jesus Christ. That is what it's really all about, isn't it? John the Baptist wasn’t sad. No, he was glad!

He says in verse 30: “He [speaking of Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” Notice that word “must.” This is part of God's eternal plan. It’s the way that it’s supposed to be. Jesus Christ must increase. There is no option. The luster of the star that shined so brightly last night is lost in the brightness of the morning sun. The old covenant fades away. It's time came and now it’s gone. The new covenant is now given to us in Jesus Christ. No more longing for the Messiah! Jesus, the Son of God has finally arrived on the scene!

In verses 31-35 we have the last recorded words of John the Baptist. Not long after this John will be imprisoned and then executed by Herod. John tells us in his own words who Jesus is. He says, “Listen, Jesus is everything. I am nothing. Get out of here and go to Him.” John the Baptist offers a series of contrasts between Jesus and himself to support what he’s saying.

READ John 3:31.

John the Baptist recognizes that Jesus came from heaven. He has full knowledge of heavenly things. On the other hand, John the Baptist is of this earth. All earthly messengers have their limitations even though they have been given a divine message. John reminds us that he is merely a human being and nothing more.

READ John 3:32.

Jesus gives first hand truth. John the Baptist presented truth as it was revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit. In other words, for John it was second hand truth. Jesus came from the Father. He came from the glory of heaven. He saw it. He experienced it. He heard it. Whenever we hear Jesus describe the torment of the soul in hell He is describing what He had seen and heard. Whenever Jesus speaks of His Father's house and the many mansions, He is talking about things He has seen. His truth is pure and comes to us directly from the portals of heaven. The testimony of Jesus Christ is first hand truth.

Sadly, however, God Himself came down to earth and spoke, yet John the Baptist tells us that “no one receives his testimony.” By and large most people did not then and still do not today listen to Jesus and believe Him. They don’t believe God’s revelation to them. Unbelief prevails. Obviously there are some who do believe and receive him based on what the next verse says, but most people reject the testimony of Jesus. John 1:11 says, “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.”

READ John 3:33.

Jesus is the perfect witness. His testimony is absolutely dependable. Every time Jesus speaks, He agrees with God the Father. He has His Father’s seal of approval. Listen, you cannot separate those two. If you believe in Jesus Christ, then you believe the truth about God. And if you believe the truth about God, you must believe in Jesus Christ. Why? Because God said that Jesus Christ “is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” You cannot say you believe in God but reject Jesus Christ. You do not believe in God unless you believe in Jesus Christ who is the full expression of God.

READ John 3:34.

In other words, there is no limitation of the Holy Spirit's power on Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells within us but He is limited, right? He is limited because we are sinful vessels. He is also limited by our lack of faith. He is limited because we are not divine. It was no different with John the Baptist. He had the Holy Spirit’s power on him, but the Holy Spirit was limited because of John the Baptist’s sin. On the other hand, Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God. The Bible says, “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The fullness of the Spirit of God was in Him without any limitation. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit from His very first breath.

READ John 3:35.

Here you have clear testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is supreme because God gave Him supremacy. John the Baptist says, “God has given all things into His hand – all authority, all power.” Philippians Chapter 2 (verses 9-11) puts it this way: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

John the Baptist drives home the point that Jesus Christ is vastly superior to himself in every way. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” “He is God and I am not. Follow Him!”

And the proof that John the Baptist was indeed a Baptist is that at the end of his message he offers an invitation. Look at verse 36…

READ John 3:36.

John offers the invitation – Believe! Put your faith in Jesus Christ. Invite Him to take over your life. He offers the gift of everlasting life. Clearly we have two choices, and only two – to believe or not to believe; everlasting life or the wrath of God; heaven or hell. It’s the most important decision one will ever make. The invitation is wide open. Jesus stands with open arms ready to receive a repentant heart.

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John 3:22-36

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