Read John 3:22–36
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectThink of the last wedding you attended. Remember the joy?
Today we see different responses to the start of Jesus’ ministry: humility and pride, joy and jealousy.
John the Baptist was a powerful preacher. See how Jesus referred to him in Matthew 11:11. But John knew Jesus was God in person, far superior to himself, and he continually told his disciples this (John 1:20,21). Yet when they saw the crowds flocking to Jesus, they became jealous. They had yet to understand what John had been saying all along. Jesus was the world’s Messiah, not John.
When John’s disciples came to tell him of Jesus’ flourishing ministry, he knew that although his own ministry would continue for a little longer, his mission was drawing to an end (3:30). He had been called to go ahead of the Messiah and prepare people for his coming. The Messiah had come. Now it was time for people to look away from John and focus on Jesus.
See how John uses a wedding ceremony to illustrate his point (29). He refers to the people as the bride. She “belongs to the bridegroom.” He refers to himself as the bridegroom’s friend, full of joy as he hands over the bride to the groom, his task complete.
1 Peter 5 says: “God opposes those who are proud. But he gives grace to those who are humble.” Into which category do you fit?