Lesson 22: The Working Relationship of John and Jesus
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A Blending of The Four Gospel Records.
Welcome to Lesson # 22. After Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan to fulfill all righteousness, and after the temptation in the wilderness, he returned to Galilee for a few months; but the next spring at the time of the passover (we learned 2:13) Jesus went up to Jerusalem. We covered the cleansing of the temple there and his interview with Nicodemus. In John 3:22 Jesus left Jerusalem but he did not leave Judea. I would assume He went down around the Jordan valley, but the place is not identified. So, in the verses we're going to read (John 3:22-26), we find Jesus and his disciples engaged in the very thing Jesus told Nicodemus, he MUST do to be born of the Spirit, i.e. be baptized (John 3:7). Let's read, beginning in John 3:22. Are you ready? "After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salem, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 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." O.K., now fix the time. This was before John the Baptist was put in prison (v.24-). John was still going strong at his occupation of baptizing; very much like he was described to us before. You will recall that Matthew, Mark and Luke in their writing skipped on to the time after John was put in prison. But, the apostle John (here) gives us a few things not found in the other books that took place before John's imprisonment. Now, although, the parenthesis in John 4:2 makes it clear that Jesus left the mechanics of immersing to his disciples; verse, 23, 26, (here) declare plainly that Jesus and John were doing the same thing, i.e. baptizing. The place where John was baptizing is identified as NEAR to "Salim." Salim is city # 10 on your map WORKSHEET, about half way between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. A little south of Bethabara. The spelling is in v.23. So, take the time to get it posted. The place where John baptized is called Aenon which was apparently a spring of water not far from the Jordan but on the west side of the river. Nevertheless, our text gives the reason why John selected Aenon, "there was much water there." Thus, I think it's fair to conclude that for baptizing; much water was desirable.
Alright, now get the point that John want us to see. In v.25 "there AROSE a question," i.e. a DISPUTE we would say. Now, that dispute was between John's disciples and some other Jews. These other Jews are not identified. But, most likely some of the Pharisee. Do you remember Nicodemus' kind? The subject of the dispute was "purifying." Now, I'm not quite sure what all that involved. We ran across that term before (John 2:6). Do you remember the water pots at the wedding feast in Cana, we talked about, where Jesus turned the water to wine? This probably involved some of the oral traditions of the Pharisees. These Jews (as they are referred to), were probably trying to fit the enterprise of Jesus and John's baptism under their traditions AND it wouldn't fit. So, they came to John the Baptist with their dispute (v.26). Now get it in focus! "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him." They of course, had reference to Jesus in John ch. 1:29. They had discovered that Jesus and his disciples were preaching and baptizing someplace else; possibly someplace else along the Jordan. And when they said (here in v.26) "all men come to him." the implication is that many, many people were responding and requesting baptism at the hands of Jesus' disciples.
It is not said who presented the case to John; his own disciples or the Jews that were disputing with them. But, I would assume John's disciples. Because in presenting the case; some of the jealousies of John's disciples were exposed. No doubt they had heard that "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." (John 4:1). Thus, John sensed that his disciples were envious of Jesus and they felt competition between John and Jesus. Now, please notice, this was between the disciples. It was NOT between John and Jesus. Now, we don't learn any more about that purifying dispute; because, the discussion shifted HERE. When John sensed that attitude of competition on the part of his disciples; John made them a speech about their attitude. AND, that speech consumes the remainder of John ch. 3, v.27 down thru 36, ten verses. THUS, we are treated to another opportunity of hearing John the Baptist speak. Even in as remote way as it might be; we still get several insights. So, get your eyes on the text. Let's read John’s lecture. Try to imagine you're taking this in (now) first hand. Alright, here's John (v.27): "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 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. He must increase, but I must decrease. 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. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth His testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 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."
O.K. first off, John understood that Jesus must increase and John must decrease. That was the natural progression and that was God's desire. AND, John only wanted to do God's will. Notice the way that John identified himself in v.28. He reminded his disciples that he had said before: "I am not the Christ." Then notice the last part, "I am sent before him." What does that mean? Do you remember Malachi 4:5, next to the last verse in the O.T.? "I will SEND you Elijah the prophet BEFORE the coming...of the Lord." John knew his place and John played his role. Now look at v. 29, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." Alright, here we discover a new figure of speech; but, it has reference to exactly the SAME THING as the kingdom, (so make a note on your KINGDOM WORKSHEET) that we've talked about before. Jesus used that figure of the kingdom with Nicodemus, earlier in this chapter. But, HERE the husband and wife relationship expressed John's thought a little better than the king and kingdom relationship that both John and Jesus had already used. The husband and wife relationship expresses the idea of possession a little stronger, carries the idea of intimacy and shows the relationship to be more personal. Before our study is complete, we shall discover several other figures that are used in a similar way to express this idea. A household, a vineyard and a sheepfold are three examples. This idea is also used synonymously with the word "church" that will be used later. John identifies himself here as "the friend of the bridegroom." Who does the bride or the kingdom belong to in v.29? Certainly John disavows ownership. Yet, I find reference today by some to the Baptist church, in other words: the Baptist kingdom or the Baptist bride. How can that be? John is the only Baptist mentioned in the whole Bible. There was just one and he said, "I must decrease." (v.30). If there was just one and he decreased, how could there be any today? Have you got my question? O.K. you answer it.
Do you remember Jesus' statements to Nicodemus near the close of that conversation as recorded earlier in this chapter? If you examine the thoughts of John the Baptist (as recorded here in v.31-36) you will find a very close harmony in the two lessons. Compare the thought in v.31-32 with v.11-12-13 up above. In v.31, John said twice, "He that cometh from heaven is above all." John started the sentence with that thought and he ended the sentence with that thought. Sandwiched in between is the statement, "he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth." A rather obvious statement. Thus, John affirms that Jesus came from heaven and is above all. In v.32 where John said, "no man receiveth his testimony"; John here puts NO MAN to mean practically none, i.e. a very, very low percentage. Because, in v.33 he makes reference to "He that HATH received his testimony." But, the point is this, John is saying that those who obeyed, i.e. those who received Jesus' testimony AND were baptized according to Jesus' instruction to enter the kingdom were so few that they certainly were not a sufficient reason to have a jealous attitude. In the view of John's disciples (v.26) ALL MEN were coming to Jesus. But in contrast, John's view WAS that very little was being accomplished, very few were obeying, i.e. compared to the astounding number who chose NOT to obey. But, notice (v.33) "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." That's another way of saying they had faith, they believed and thus received the power to BECOME children of God (John 1:12).
Now, tune in v.34-35-36. And, remember, these are the words of John the Baptist. This is John's inspired recommendation of Jesus, "he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God:" You see, here's one more testimony, one more evidence that Jesus came from God. AND, John the apostle said that's why he wrote this book (John 20:30), to present evidence for undergirding our faith. Then in the last statement in v.34, John gave another reason, "for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." That is, God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit without limitation. This is not said about another person in all the scriptures. No prophet received the Spirit in the total sense that Jesus received it. You will remember that the Spirit descended upon Jesus when he was baptized (Matt. 3:16). John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15). But, John affirms here in v.34 that Jesus received the Holy Ghost in a greater measure, i.e. in a more unlimited way than John. I suggest you get a good grip on this; because as we study the N.T. we'll discover that others are given similar miraculous powers. But all who received such powers received them in an inferior way to the measure that Jesus was given. Then, don't miss the thought in v.35, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." That's pretty close to John 3:16. Do you remember the golden text of the Bible? Now, if God gave ALL THINGS into the hand of Jesus; what all does that include? At a later time, Jesus confirmed that this was true. He said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28:18). So, we must realize and understand that "without measure" and "gave all things into his had" means just that. Jesus is the great King. Thus, those that submit to this authority and obey him are the citizens in his kingdom. This statement in v.35 is consistent with everything else taught in the N.T. For example, in John 5:22, Jesus speaking said this, "For the Father judgeth no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son." Thus, to face the judgment is to face Jesus. It's interesting that I Cor. 15:24 says after the end of time, Jesus will deliver the kingdom up to God. Then Jesus will put down all rule, all authority and all power. But, right now, Jesus Christ has the Spirit of God without measure and that power has resided in him ever since that day described in Matt. 3:16. Furthermore, it will continue with him until he puts down that power as described in I Cor. 15:24.
O.K. v.36! But, before we consider that, back up to v.18 just a minute. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "He that believeth on him [i.e. Jesus] is not condemned: but he that believeth NOT is condemned already, BECAUSE he hath NOT believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." It may be a little different wording; but, John here in v.36 said exactly the same thing. "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." John and Jesus taught exactly the same thing. NOW, what did they teach, about receiving everlasting life? Everlasting life comes by believing on the Son of God, i.e. that Jesus Christ is God's Son. The word "believeth" here in v.36 means to have faith, i.e. to have confidence in. But the word carries with it the idea of sufficient faith, sufficient confidence, to cause one to act in accordance with that faith. If one does not have faith to that degree, he will not see life, i.e. "the wrath of God abideth on him." Pretty straight talk! Hard to be misunderstood. One would have to have a little help to misunderstand that. O.K. that's the end of John's speech and that's the end of John ch. 3.
But, since we've got another minute or two, let's take a look at the coming attractions. Let's read v.1-2-3 in John ch. 4. Are you ready? Let's read. "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples) He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee." Alright, I would assume that the Pharisees here in v.1 were the same Jews who brought on that dispute over purifying up in John 3:25. Where John the Baptist picked-up-on the attitude of competition that existed among HIS disciples. When Jesus learn this, He took this opportunity to move on. V.3 says simply, "He left Judea, and departed AGAIN into Galilee." The word "again" here implies, of course, that Jesus had been in Galilee before. And, of course, you remember he left Galilee at the time of the passover (John 2:13). Jesus may have been in Judea. a few weeks or a few months at most. However, Jesus won't arrive in Galilee for about 40 more verses down the page, here in John ch. 4. Quite an interesting an informative trip for us. We'll get back to that trip in our next lesson. I trust that you remember that when Jesus GETS back into Galilee, that will bring us to the place where we left off in Matt., Mark, and Luke. And, HANG-ON to those Pharisee here in v.1; we'll meet'em again.
We've mentioned the parenthesis in John 4:2 before. Jesus left the chore of baptizing or immersing new converts to his disciples. WHY, that was the case, I'm not sure. It may have been that some would have attached more importance to being baptized by the Lord himself than being born again at the hands of his disciples. Possibly Jesus sought to prevent that. Secondly, this shows that the responsibility of obedience in baptism rests upon the one being immersed and not upon the one administering it. The baptism that Jesus and his disciples administered here in John ch. 3 & 4 was for the same purpose as John's baptism. We talked about John's baptism before; that it was preparatory for the coming kingdom. Mark 1:4 describe it as a "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." We said it was NOT baptism in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Ghost or so-called Great Commission baptism which is in effect today. This is made abundantly clear in Acts 19:3-4-5. Have a good day!