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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 1 - The Shining of the Divine Light (John 1:1 - 4:54)
C - Christ's First Visit to Jerusalem (John 2:13 - 4:54) -- What is True Worship?

3. The Baptist testifies to Jesus the Bridegroom (John 3:22–36)

JOHN 3:22-30
22 After these things, Jesus came with his disciples into the land of Judea. He stayed there with them, and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there. They came, and were baptized. 24 For John was not yet thrown into prison. 25 There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John’s disciples with some Jews about purification. 26 They came to John, and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, the same baptizes, and everyone is coming to him.” 27 John answered, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves testify 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. This, my joy, therefore is made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

After the Passover, Jesus left Jerusalem and began to baptize, the disciples knew the need for brokenness before rebirth, and that without confession of sin salvation is not effected. Baptism for the pardon of sins symbolized brokenness, by which the penitent expresses his longing to enter the New Covenant with God.

The Baptist had changed the place of his ministry moving to Aenon at the northern end of the Jordan valley. They came to John and poured out their hearts to him; so he baptized them, preparing them to meet Jesus.

Jesus did not return to Galilee directly after the Passover, but began to baptize the penitent elsewhere in the land. With a greater authority, more people came to him than to John. As a result a dispute arose between the two parties. The issue was: Which of the two leaders is better for the task of cleansing from sin? Which of the two is closer to God? Here was a vital question, because they wanted to sanctify their lives completely. Brother, have you considered the way according to which your whole character can be sanctified? Do you strive to have yourself completely purified or do you keep pulling your sins behind you forever?

The Baptist resisted a great temptation. He did not envy Jesus’ striking success, but realized that his own ministry had limits. He humbly admitted, "Mere man cannot undertake such a good work on his own. Only if God has granted him the power, blessing and the fruit, can he do so." We, on the contrary, boast of ourselves, our spiritual knowledge, prayers, and fine speeches. If you should receive a spiritual gift, that is from God. You are still a slave, unworthy even if you did all that God requires. The Baptist stayed humble, nor did he claim abilities beyond his capacity, but glorified God alone.

Once again John testified to his disciples that he was not the Messiah. Maybe he expected Christ to triumphantly enter into Jerusalem, but this did not happen. Instead Jesus started baptizing like John. So the Baptist was puzzled, but remained obedient and humble. He confined himself to the task appointed to him by God, to be a forerunner of Christ, preparing his way.

John remained faithful to the revelation he had been granted. He testified that Jesus is the Bridegroom, who treated the penitent, as his bride. Today the Spirit creates this spiritual unity, so that Paul can say, "We are members of the body of Christ, and he is our Head; we are one with him." Christ is no longer our judge but our Savior, the Bridegroom. The joyous picture of a wedding shows us our hope in Christ.

The Baptist was standing afar, rejoicing in the growth of the believers. But he stood beside Jesus, rather than among his assembly. He confessed to being a faithful friend. While he remained isolated in the wilderness, Jesus entered directly into the capital where he performed signs and preached his sermons. The Baptist observed the advance of the Kingdom and rejoiced. The voice and prominence of the Bridegroom pleased him. News of Christ’s successes were heavenly music to him. Thus the tenderness of Christ softened the coarse Baptist during the closing days of his service; he rejoiced as partner in the wedding feast.

John was ready to die, not anxious to widen his circle of followers. He preferred to decrease and vanish so that the believers might grow.

Reader, who is it that heads your meetings? Does each strive against the other for leadership, or do you give way to others, to be least that Christ may grow mighty in you? Join with John and say, "He must increase, and I decrease."


  1. In what sense is Christ the Bridegroom?


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