John 4:1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples)… ESV
“You can learn more from a book if you stop and
ask it questions than if you just read it passively.”
John Piper on Bible reading
Why would John have side-noted “Jesus himself did not baptize?” John knew what his purpose was; to use baptism with water to point to “He who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” He clearly wanted to protect Jesus from the Pharisees and establish the difference between his external baptism and what Jesus was doing. “Jesus himself did not baptize” because His greater purpose was to accomplish an internal transformation with a new birth and “living water” that would become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
It was “living water” that would make new birth a possibility for Nicodemus. It was “living water” that took Jesus to the place Jews believed was a mix of spiritually corrupt Israelites and pagan foreigners to offer that new birth to a Samaritan woman. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” of “living water.” It was “living water” that revealed true worship doesn’t happen because of an external ritual or a place, but because “the Father is seeking true worshippers to worship him in Spirit and in Truth” in the most unexpected places.