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September 8, 2013 We’re studying through the book of John and we’ve come now to the latter part of chapter three. This is the place where John says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It’s a wonderful statement, and it does address the subject of humility, but I want to keep it in its proper context as we study it today. The primary purpose of John 3:30 isn’t so much to promote humility as it is to promote the glory of Christ. The reason John must decrease is because he is not the One the world has been anxiously awaiting. It is, therefore, perfectly natural that he should slide out of view or dim in popularity; the One they had been looking for was coming right behind him! So, in order to build up to this point let’s start with the setting. Jesus called His disciples, turned the water into wine, drove the money-changers out of the temple, and spoke with Nicodemus at night: After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 23And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24For John was not yet cast into prison. This verse is a little confusing because it sound like Jesus and His disciples went to be baptized by John, but they were in Judea and John was in Aenon. He had gone there because there was plenty of water and he had so many people wanting to be baptized. But now he has some competition, doesn’t he? Jesus has his disciples baptizing (John 4:2) just a short distance from John. Well, naturally this might be a point of conflict and the devil always has some folks he can incite to get things moving:
Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. We don’t know too many of the details but this was probably a question of the Law. The Jews washed everything with water and it was a big part of their religious ceremony, but then John comes saying something else: The word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. 7Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 9And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 10And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 11He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. 12Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? 13And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. 14And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. 15And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; 16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people (Lk. 3:2-18). “Purification” is more than washing. And apparently the Jews don’t agree with this and they’re frustrated so they hatch a plan to bring John down:
And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. “Remember that guy? Well, he’s taking your job.”
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. He’s not going to fall into their trap because he understands the source of authority and calling. If Jesus wants to take John’s followers, so be it. There’s no reason to be jealous or to complain about it. A man can only have what God gives him. Besides, John has expected this to happen and he’s glad for it:
Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
When they came they said, “he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness.” Well, that takes us back to 1:19-30: And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. John has no problem losing men to the Christ; that was the plan the whole time!
He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. On the wedding day it’s not the best man who is honored but the groom. The bride does not belong to the best man so he has no rights to her. The best man isn’t threatened or envious of the groom’s voice, but he is full of joy over it!
He must increase, but I must decrease.
This is only natural. This is how things work. John’s whole ministry is designed to point to Christ. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. You see, John understood his own place; he was just a man. It’s no loss to lose anything to Christ. He’s from heaven and everything belongs to Him anyway. He’s higher than John and higher than angels. These guys come and say, “He’s a threat to your ministry. Everyone’s going to turn to Him instead of you,” and John says, “Uh…yeah. That’s kind of the point.”
And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. This is a little rebuke to these men who’ve come to tell him. They don’t care about Jesus or what He’s seen; they only want to divide and cause conflict. They haven’t and they’re not going to receive His testimony because they don’t really believe the Scriptures:
He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
John has already told them: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias and Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:23, 29). Anyone who hears that and then trusts Christ has “set to his seal” or he has certified 1 that God is true. In other words, the Scriptures said that the forerunner would come and then be followed by the Messiah and now it’s happening. God didn’t lie. If you believe then you’re saying that you believe God.
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God:
We don’t believe just anyone; we believe those who declare what God has said. And Jesus and John both came speaking the words of God, so we know that they are of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. John isn’t worried about losing his ministry to Jesus because Jesus is far above him. John has a limited ministry and limited gifting, but Jesus is without measure. Also:
The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
Wow! John is just the forerunner. He’s not the groom and he’s not the Son. John only has what he’s been given, but Jesus has everything. How could a man be jealous over something like this? Doesn’t it make you think back to Genesis 3:5 when the serpent deceived Eve in the same way? “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.” But John’s not falling for it. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands:
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. And here is the warning: “You want to come over here stirring up trouble? God’s wrath remains on those who reject His Son. You think you’ve got life because of your genealogy, but you’ve got nothing at all if you don’t believe. You make God out to be a liar. You don’t trust Moses or any of the prophets. You will be punished.” Let’s wrap up with a couple points: #1- God has given us everything we have, so we shouldn’t feel threatened when faced with loss. What did Job ask? “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Or how about, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). David’s heart was smote within him after he counted the fighting men because he had trusted in his reserves instead of the power of the Lord (II Sam. 24:1-10). We all lose in many ways, but what we have comes from Him and what we lose is because of Him. His grace is sufficient so blessed be His name. #2- God has given us everything we have for His own glory, so we should use it for that purpose. When we see it this way we have joy no matter our circumstances because we know He has it all planned out and that He is true! newgracebaptistchurch.wordpress.com
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