JOHN 3:22-29 THE TRANSITION FROM JOHN TO JESUS

23Jul

John 3:22 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.

 Here we see the transition from John’s ministry to Jesus’ ministry.  As usual people always get jealous of others even though John has been telling his disciples and us from the very beginning that his job was just to point the way to Jesus and that he is only the newspaper boy telling us to read all about it, Jesus is coming, you need to get your life right with God.  He then tells us that he is only the friend of the bridegroom and that person is Jesus.  His job is to protect the bride and get them ready for when the bridegroom comes, then he is off the scene because his job is done.  Everything John does and says points us to Jesus, does your life and mine?

 All other Gospels have Jesus going into ministry immediately after His baptism, John gives us all info

  1. Jesus wanted to be with disciples
  2. Jesus wanted to baptize
  3. Jesus wanted to cause confrontation

Important overlap so John can point people to Jesus.

Transitional passage from the old covenant to the beginning of the new –End of the Old

V22-26 Jesus goes out where John is baptizing so as to set up a confrontation between the two ways Numbers 11:26-30 Moses had the same problem

Joh 3:22 ¶ After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Joh 4:2

Jesus and His disciples had been in the city of Jerusalem, where He had cleansed the temple (2:13-22), performed a number of signs (2:23), and spoken with Nicodemus (3:1-21). They are now leaving the city of Jerusalem, making their way into the countryside.  There, Jesus “spent time with” His disciples. We should ponder these three words, “spent time with,” because they remind us of a very important element of discipleship. As it should be, the church is very interested in discipleship. Jesus is seen as the model for “discipling,” and rightly so. Nevertheless, our discipleship programs seldom do what our Lord actually did. Rather, we emphasize a kind of classroom instruction, and usually a highly structured program with “accountability” and other controls. While this may be commendable, I cannot overlook the fact that Jesus “spent time” with His disciples. To be our Lord’s disciple was to “be with Him”:

Discipleship is about witnessing, accountability, and one-on-one relationships with those who come to faith in Christ. But first and foremost, a disciple is one who spends time with the Master.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that a significant part of our Lord’s discipling was simply spending time with His disciples.

Jesus'  conversation  with  Nicodemus  evidently  happened  in  Jerusalem (2:23). Jerusalem was within Judea. After that conversation, Jesus went out into the Judean countryside. Jesus had not yet commissioned the Twelve.        That   commissioning   happened   after   John   the   Baptist's imprisonment (Mark 1:14). The disciples who accompanied Jesus may not have been the Twelve, but they were His followers and they could have included all or some of the Twelve. This is the only record in the Gospels that Jesus engaged in a baptizing ministry similar to John the Baptist's. It was undoubtedly baptism expressing repentance rather than "Christian baptism." The writer later explained that Jesus did not do the baptizing Himself, but His disciples did (4:2). Jesus was also spending time with these disciples undoubtedly to help them understand and appreciate who He really was.

23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 1Sa 9:4; Mt 3:5-6

 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Mt 14:3

John then interjects a parenthetical explanation in verse 24: “(For John had not yet been thrown into prison.)” Why would the Apostle John feel this statement is necessary? The Synoptic Gospels all start our Lord’s public ministry after the arrest of John the Baptist:

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God. 15 He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!” (Mark 1:14-15; see also Matthew 4:12f.)

From him alone we learn that between Jesus' temptation and John the Baptist's arrest John and Jesus worked side by side for a time. His reference to John the Baptist's imprisonment is important because it helps the reader see that John's account does not contradict the Synoptics. Yet his primary concern was John the Baptist's witness to Jesus.

At this later point in time, Jesus picked up where John left off, with virtually the same message as John. Only in the Gospel of John do we learn of an earlier time when both John and Jesus were ministering simultaneously, with both groups (John and his disciples, and Jesus and His disciples) doing virtually the same thing at the same time (baptizing those who came to them).

John wants his readers to know of this unique, if very brief, period of simultaneous ministry because it is the setting from which a perceived problem arises. This problem arises because of our Lord’s successful ministry at this time. In our text, the Apostle John bids what I suspect is a sad farewell to John the Baptist. He will be referred to later in this Gospel, but this is the last time we read his own words. Our text is a fitting tribute to a great man. John the Baptist’s response here is a model of humility and Christian servanthood. Let us listen very carefully, not only to his words, but to his heart.

John’s Disciples Are Distressed (3:25-26)

 25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purification.

John tells us of a dispute between the disciples of John and “a Jew or Jews,”[i] who argue over ceremonial washing. If this Jew was resistant to John’s message and his baptism, it may well be that he argues for the superiority of the Jewish ceremonial cleansings. Somehow, the conversation seems to gravitate to a comparison of John’s baptism with that of Jesus. The dispute between John’s disciples and this Jew appears to prompt them to return to John with their concerns about Jesus.

We are not told what is said in this dispute. For the purposes of illustration and clarification, allow me to suggest one possible scenario: John’s disciples encounter a Jew and ask him if he wishes to be baptized. He responds that he is not interested; he is convinced that the Jewish ceremonial cleansings are more effective. Unwilling to leave it at this, the disciples begin to debate with him. Seeing that he is not making any progress, the Jew may have “put the icing on the cake” with a statement something like: “Well what are you so dogmatic about? Don’t you know that Jesus is baptizing in the same way you are, and far more people are going to Him than to you folks? Why don’t you just give it up?”

John’s disciples return to him frustrated and upset, not with the Jew, but with Jesus. They are distressed that Jesus and His disciples are more successful than they are. In fact, they almost seem distressed at John the Baptist, irritated that he has not done anything to remedy this situation. After all, it was John who pointed the crowds to Jesus, and he who had greatly contributed to the success of Jesus. Listen to the anger and frustration in their words to their “master”:

 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!"Joh 1:7,15,27,34

 The words of John’s disciples give them away. Notice how they choose to refer to Jesus. They do not call Him by name (Jesus), nor do they refer to Him as the Messiah, though that is the way John refers to Him. They speak of Jesus as “the one who was with you, … the one about whom you testified.” I believe they did so because they actually came to resent who Jesus was. His identity and His success are related. If they are jealous of His success, they are not as enthusiastic about His identity as they should be. Neither are they as enthusiastic about acknowledging Jesus as Messiah as John is. John associates himself with Jesus, giving Jesus credibility. Worse yet, from their point of view, John testifies about Jesus (notice that they don’t mention what he testifies). Now, they complain, “everyone is going to him!

Note the similarity of these words to the words of the Pharisees:

17 So the crowd who had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead were continuing to testify about it. 18 Because they had heard that Jesus had performed this miraculous sign, the crowd went out to meet him. 19 Thus the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!” (John 12:17-19, emphasis mine.)

One is also reminded of these words in the Book of Numbers:

26 But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!” 29 Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:26-29, NKJV)

Lest we think John’s disciples are the exception, let me suggest that their mindset is virtually the same as the disciples of our Lord. Our Lord’s disciples are jealous for Jesus’ success. They don’t like it when others attempt the same ministries they perform (see Mark 9:38; Luke 9:49). They dread the thought of failure and suffering (Matthew 16:21-22). In the Gospels, the disciples of John and the disciples of our Lord are in it for themselves, until they learn the meaning of taking up one’s cross. John’s disciples therefore are put out with John for having created this situation. They do not like the fact that Jesus is now baptizing, just as they are, but with greater success. They see the end in view, for themselves and for their ministry. Yet this is the way God meant it to be.

This raises an interesting issue: Why don’t John’s disciples—the ones chastising him—leave John to follow Jesus? Why do they stay on with John? What do they expect, as far as the future is concerned? John’s ministry was to introduce the Messiah. He has done that, and his mission has been accomplished. John’s disciples are acting as though John is the Messiah. They seem to think that their mission and ministry will continue on indefinitely. Judging from the broad impact of John’s teaching (e.g., Acts 19), they may have worked at it for some time. But they look upon Jesus as their competition, rather than as the culmination of their ministry. None of these men seem to be considering leaving John and joining Jesus, as the first two disciples of John did.[ii] Had they cast their lot in with John, so that now they are unwilling to face up to what is in store for him and for them? It seems so. It is not a pretty picture which the Apostle John draws for us, but it is certainly true to life.

With the attitude of John’s disciples, one can understand why it was necessary for John to be imprisoned and then beheaded by Herod. Even then, one wonders how long it took John’s disciples to give it up and to begin to preach Christ

 A Servant’s Heart (3:27-30)

V27-28 A ministry can only be given by God – I am only a messenger boy or a paper boy

I am only to understand my role and do what God has called ME to do. Not be jealous

2 things we should never say, I don’t need you and you have no need of me

27 John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.1Co 4:7; Heb 5:4; Jas 1:17

 28 "You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.'Mal 3:1; Mr 1:2; Lu 1:17; Joh 1:20,27

 V27 Mark of a new Christian is that Jesus is v21, deeds have been done in Christ.

1Co 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Ps 84:10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

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. Song 5:1; Mt 22:2; 2Co 11:2; Eph 5:25,27; Re 21:9

V29 John is but the voice, Jesus, my sheep hear my voice, Jesus is the real voice

John 8:47 "He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."

V29 John is not the Messiah, only the bridegroom’s friend – his job was to protect the bride for up to a week and put the hand of the bride into the bridegrooms and then he was done

John’s ministry is the ministry he received from God. His God-given ministry was not to be the Messiah, but to introduce the Messiah. He was the forerunner; Jesus was the fulfillment,

[i] Some manuscripts have the plural here. It really doesn’t seem to matter whether the dispute was with one Jew or many.

[ii] If the Apostle John was the second disciple of John the Baptist to follow Jesus, think how he must have felt as he wrote this account, realizing this could have been him, and knowing that he is exposing the self-serving attitude of his former associates.