John 3:22-30 NIV
Jesus and his disciples
spent some time
John also was baptizing
This was before John was put in prison
An argument developed
over the matter of ceremonial washing.
They came to John and said
the one you testified about
is baptizing,everyone is going to him.
John replied, “A person can receive only
what is given them from heaven.
I am not the Messiah
The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him,
That joy is mine,
He must become greater; I must become less.
• What is the general theme of the passage?
This is the same desert place where Jesus’s triumphed over His own temptations. That fact, and this place has now become the meaningful locus of the ministry of these two cousins that begins to merge their parallel tracks into the Cross of Christ. There is some competitive controversy brewing between John’s disciples and a certain Jew[?]. Was baptism a process for purification by the symbolic removal of things determined by a set of rules that made you unclean OR was it an action of repentance with sincere regret and remorse for the unclean things only the heart knew? John clearly settles the controversy with his own recognition of the greatness of Christ and His joy that he’s been given his role as the friend who attends the bridegroom.
• What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Spirit?) It’s year one of both Jesus’s and John’s ministry. Jesus has been baptized by John who identified Him as the one sent from God. Jesus has been through the preparation of His own temptations. Peter, Andrew, Philip and Nathanael have been called, the water has been turned into wine, the temple has been cleared and Jesus has begun his ministry of transforming faith from a corporate expression of worship to a personal one with a nighttime conversation with Nicodemus.
• What does it say about people?
Human nature is competitive and competition can breed controversy. The desire to control circumstances of obedience and observance happens because of the parallel tracks of faith and personal behavior.
• Is there truth here for me?
Reading about Judea being the place Jesus returned after His own temptations made me think about my own baptism. I was about 12, but it was a meaningless process until I met Jesus twenty-one years later. That was my own time in the desert of temptations that made me realize life is like parallel tracks for many of us who know there IS a God but that’s about it! I knew enough to want to try to keep those two tracks somewhat parallel but still didn’t recognize that was my desert until the action of a repentant heart revealed there was more to life than being “not Godless, but not Godly either.” That’s when my two parallel lines began to merge into the locus that looks more and more like a Cross to me.