Study Notes

John 3:22-36

3:22 Baptizing

Jesus was baptizing people. Actually, it is more correct to say that His disciples were, as we read in John 4:2.

In the Bible, there are four baptisms mentioned: John's Baptism of Repentance, the baptism of the Spirit, a baptism that Jesus dreaded (which He mentioned in Luke 12 and Mark 10), and Christian baptism.

The baptism that Jesus spoke of with dread was the baptism of the cross - when He would be submerged not in water, but in death - into the belly of the earth. When James and John approached Jesus, asking for special political favors in the new kingdom, He answered them,

Mark 10:38 ..."You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"

And He told Peter,

Luke 12:50 "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!"

Then there is a third baptism, the one that we undergo. When we are baptized, we are identifying ourselves with the baptism of Christ, which was His death:

Rom. 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Col. 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

But the baptism being performed here are not Christian baptisms, but baptisms of repentance - people turning from sin, just as John the Baptist was doing. We should never forget that the gospel begins with repentance. People don't need a savior until they realize that they have sin that they need saving from.

3:23-24 John Still Ministering

John was baptizing in Aenon (Ahee-NOHN) near Salim (Sal-IME). Even though Jesus had shown up on the scene, John continued in his ministry to prepare people's hearts for the Lord by preaching repentance and baptizing them.

That is a good thing to keep in mind for ourselves. Often, situations around us change. We think, "Well, I wonder what the Lord wants me to do now?" He hasn't told us that He wants us to do something different, we just assume it because the atmosphere is altered from when we began. When we find ourselves in a place like that, we need to keep one thing in mind: keep doing what the Lord told you to do until He tells you to stop or to do something else.

3:25 Purification

As John is preaching and baptizing, a Jew begins to argue with John's disciples about the way a man is purified.

Remember that back in chapter 2, we saw the six stone waterpots that Jesus used to turn water into wine. These waterpots were used for the Jewish custom of purification. Purification was an important part of Jewish lifestyle.

In the gospels, we see that purity and impurity was a constant source of debate for the Jews. In Mark 7, the Pharisees argued with Jesus because His disciples were eating with impure hands. Mark tells us,

Mark 7:3-4 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)

So a Jew arguing with John's disciples about purification - probably in relation to this "baptism for repentance" thing that John had introduced. Apparently during this discussion, the fact that Jesus was also baptizing was brought up by this Jew. The fact that Jesus' crowds were much bigger didn't set too well with John's disciples, so they went and told John.

3:26-30 Nothing Not From Heaven

"Hey John," they tell him, "The ministry seems to be getting smaller what with you telling people to follow Jesus and all... maybe you could change your game plan a bit, and get back to the kind of crowds you had before."

John tells them that any crowds he did or didn't have were brought by God. "Hey you guys, didn't I tell you that I'm not the Christ, that He is?" This isn't a competition, and that's not my ministry - I'm SUPPOSED to direct people to Him... that's the whole point!"

The Bride And The Bridegroom

John says,

John 3:29 "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. And so this joy of mine has been made full.

Jesus often referred to Himself in teachings and parables as the bridegroom. And the church is the Bride of Christ, which we also see quite frequently in the Scriptures.

2Cor. 11:2 ...I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Rev. 19:7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready."

So all of the people being led by John to Jesus were doing exactly the right thing, just as in Jewish weddings the best man would lead the bride to the groom. Basically, what John says is "Hey, I'm like the best man at a friend's wedding. I'm not jealous of him getting the girl - I'm happy for him."

Increasing And Decreasing

John says,

John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.

What incredible insight John had! How we need to adopt this attitude! Jesus said five times in the gospels,

Matt. 10:39 "He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it."

This is practically impossible to preach on, because in the American church there is really no clue about or no desire to truly give up our lives. Can any of us truly say with the apostle Paul,

Gal. 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me."

When we read about giving in the Scriptures, we see that we are called to give cheerfully and sacrificially. That is dying to our flesh. It is decreasing so He can be increasing.

When we read about fasting in the Scriptures, we see that we are called to do it frequently and fully. That is dying to our flesh. It is decreasing so He can be increasing.

When we read about serving one another in the Scriptures, we see that we are to do it wholeheartedly and completely. That is dying to our flesh. It is decreasing so He can be increasing.

Are you giving cheerfully and sacrificially? Are you fasting frequently and fully? Are you serving wholeheartedly and completely? Colossians 3 says,

Col. 3:2-5 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

We must decrease, we must die to our own selves, so that He can be increased in our lives.

3:31-35 He Who Comes From Above

John says,

John 3:31-32 "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He bears witness; and no man receives His witness."

Jesus Christ came from above. So many people think of the beginning of Jesus as a baby in a manger on Christmas morning. But remember that He is the Creator:

Col. 1:16 Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him...

He is God Himself, the Son. He existed from eternity past in heaven. As we read the book of Philippians, we are encouraged to serve others by imitating what Jesus did. Listen to this:

Phil. 2:5-7 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men.

Jesus Christ, God Himself, left that place of supremacy and became a servant. As John the gospel writer has already told us in chapter 1,

John 1:14 ...the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us...

And of course Jesus already told Nicodemus this earlier in this chapter:

John 3:13 "And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, {even} the Son of Man.

Jesus came from above... He came from heaven. When we preach about the heaven, the cherubim, and the throne of God, we are doing it from an earthly perspective. But when Jesus bore, He was telling us what He has already seen and heard.

Unfortunately, many men - created beings - rejected His witness, they would not receive the witness of their own Creator.

Set His Seal

John tells his disciples,

John 3:33 "He who has received His witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.

In those days, a seal served two purposes. First, it indicated ownership. When you set your seal to something, you were displaying your ownership of it. That is why God seals us with His Spirit. The other purpose of the seal was to validate something - to attest that you were in agreement with it, to actuate that this was true.

So John says that when you receive the witness of Christ, you set your seal to it. In other words, everyone who believes the words of Jesus has attested to the fact that God is true, and claims ownership upon that truth.

The Spirit Without Measure

John also says that God...

John 3:34 " the Spirit without measure."

John has been making the point that Jesus speaks the word of God. But He is not doing it like earthly prophets did:

2Pet. 1:21 moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The prophets spoke as the Spirit moved them, but Jesus had the completeness, the fullness of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him and filling Him continually.

We have often talked about the necessity of our being continually being filled with the Spirit. Yes, we have been given the Spirit - sealed with Him, He lives in our hearts as a pledge of our inheritance. But that additional work of the Holy Spirit that we discussed back in chapter 1, the baptism of the Spirit, the filling with the Spirit, that can and must be done continually.

The Lord gives us the Spirit without measure. He won't say, "C'mon Stan! I've filled you with the Spirit six times this month! And you're asking me again?" No, Jesus reassured us,

Luke 11:10-13 "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or {if} he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall {your} heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

Ask your heavenly father yet again to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will give to you without measure.

3:36 Eternal Life Or Wrath

Like so many places in the Bible, we are told to made a decision for Jesus Christ. You see, the problem with us is that we sin. We have broken God's commandments, we have thought and acted wickedly - every one of us.

The Bible tells us specifically that our sins bring a death sentence upon us. An eternal death sentence, separated from God, spending eternity in hell.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death...

Jesus, however, is sinless. So when He took the punishment of death on the cross, it was made available for each of us to have His death be a substitute for ours.

But, if you choose to reject God's gift - the horrible torturous death of His Son - what will happen to you? The wrath of almighty God will abide on you.

So Jesus made the statement so abundantly clear:

Matt. 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me...

Receive the free gift of salvation from Jesus Christ this morning.

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