He must increase, we must decrease (John 3:22-36)

He must increase, we must decrease

He must increase, we must decrease

He must increase, we must decrease

He must increase, we must decrease

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The Passage

This week we are going to study John 3:22-36. So let’s read the passage, “After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:22-36

The Countryside

In this passage, we were told that Jesus goes to the Judean countryside after being in Jerusalem. He stayed there and was baptizing. We see that Jesus consistently goes away from the crowds, to be out in the country or to be by Himself, along with anyone who was able to follow Him. I think there are four reasons, we can see why Jesus may have gone into the countryside or wilderness throughout His ministry. The first reason was likely to be alone with His Heavenly Father like He did after His baptism (Matthew 3-4) before He went to the cross (Matthew 26:36), and many other times throughout His public ministry (Luke 5:16). The second reason could be that He wanted to explain to His closest followers, what the parables meant. This may not be the reason why He went this time, but it was certainly why He went at other times, as Jesus explained in Matthew 13:10-17. The third reason may have been to keep the Jews from killing Him before it was a time (John 11:53-54). The fourth reason may have been for a specific reason or person such as in Matthew 8:28-34 where Jesus goes and casts demons out of two men and into the pigs. I am not saying these are all of the reasons why He would go into the countryside or the wilderness, but just a few. I am just saying these are some of the reasons we see that Jesus would go out into the countryside. I think that we can do the same thing and it is important for us as Christians to take countryside time with God, in the scripture, and with our families. The second one is not as applicable because we do not speak in parables, but we can know how to answer others’ questions and how to share the gospel. We cannot apply the third one because we do not know others’ thoughts or when it is our time to die. The fourth one can be applied because God does have people He puts in our path to help or to share the gospel with. We may not know about these ahead of time as He did, but God still sets up the meetings, and we need to be looking for them. 

The Discussion

This passage also tells us that John the Baptist was baptizing. John’s disciples and a Jew were discussing purification. So to resolve the discussion they took it to John and asked him why Jesus was baptizing and why many people are going to Him. I think this tells us that this discussion may have been about what Jesus was saying that contradicted the additional rules that had been placed on the Jews by their leaders which were not a part of God’s law. Which were not based on scripture, we see this a lot when Jesus is with the Pharisees, such as in Mark 7:1-20, when Jesus was discussing hand washing with the Jews. So John responds to the question of why Jesus, the one to whom John bore witness to, was now baptizing and all were going to Him. He told them a person cannot receive one thing unless it is given to him from Heaven. By telling them that they were exalting John above his pay grade and that they did not understand who Jesus was. He tells them that he has already explained to them that he is not from heaven and is not the Christ but that he came to point to the Christ. That his knowledge of who Christ was, was from heaven but that he was not. 

Friend of the Bridegroom

John then goes into an analogy about the friend of a bridegroom. He says that the one who has the bride is the bridegroom and the friend of the bridegroom rejoices at the bridegroom’s voice. John is comparing himself to the friend, Jesus as the bridegroom, but who he is referring to as the bride. If you have grown up in church or been in church for some time you may already know, He is saying that all the ones who are going to Jesus, are the bride. The church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). John then tells them in the same way his joy is complete seeing them go to Jesus and that Jesus must increase and John must decrease. That is something we as Christians need to realize that we are like John except we are telling them that Jesus is coming again and that all should repent and come to Him. See we so often make it about us, we forget that people are not to look to or follow us but to seek Jesus. He must increase and we must decrease. This story is not about us, we get the precious gift of not only being grafted into God’s forever family, but also being grafted into His forever story. Notice that I said grafted, we are not the main character, we are merely extras, but we are extras that the main character loves and wants to be with forever. 

The Seal

The passage then goes on to say that John is earthly, therefore he speaks in an earthly way, but Jesus is from Heaven and is above all. Jesus bears witness to what He has heard and seen. It then tells us that anyone who accepts His testimony sets a seal that God is true. Anyone, that includes us, for the last two-thousand years people have received His testimony and have set their seals that He is true. Not only in accepting His testimony, but also by the way they lived their lives. To quote Gamaliel, a high priest presented with what to do with the apostles when they would not stop teaching in the name of Jesus. Gamaliel tells the men of Israel, “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice,” Acts 5:38-39. We still see that Christianity is alive and thriving today, so I believe that it was from God. We are going to skip down to the last verse and come back to the others. The passage continues by telling us that Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. See if you really believe that Jesus is the Son of God you will obey Him. If you would like to be grafted into God’s forever family all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and confess Him as Lord of your life (Romans 10:9).

Everything into His hands

Let’s go back to the other two verses we skipped 34 and 35, For he whom God has sent utters the word of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given everything into his hands. This is so reassuring that God has given everything into Jesus’ hands. This shows us that not only does Jesus have the whole world in His hands, but also everything that was ever created. This means He has you in His hands and He will be with you always! And on top of that, He will send the Spirit, part of Himself to dwell within you. Only one time before has man been this close to God and God wants you to be a part of what He is doing in the world. So this week, remember what He did for you and know that you must decrease and He must increase. Live your life in such a way that makes Jesus known to those around you. Also, remember to have your countryside time with God this week, you may not have to go to the countryside just get alone and be with God.

Check out the other blogs in this series A Study through the Gospel of John

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