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Sunday, April 17, 2016

John the Baptist Comes on the Scene again -- John 3

     After this, Jesus and His disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where He spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John (Baptist) also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. (This was before John was put in prison). John 3:22-24  Aenon was a place in Palestine where there were many springs. Salim means “peace.” John the Baptist will bring those he is baptizing to the Prince of Peace who is the fountain of living water.
            God had set John the Baptist apart for Him in the wilderness. There John would not be influenced by others or by false teaching, opinions or unfaithfulness. He was detached from the world and free from all of the mindsets that might entrap him. No lust for power or position would be there to tempt him. He would be alone with God and the Holy Spirit who would teach and guide him. He must be prepared for his calling.
John the Baptist and Jesus’ ministry overlapped for a time, just as the Older Testament and the New overlap. John the Baptist represented the Law and the Prophets that pointed to Christ. The Law and the Prophets reveal Jesus in types and shadows.
     John the Baptist did his job. He baptized people in repentance making them ready to receive Jesus. John the Baptist’s baptism could not remove sin, but Jesus’ spiritual baptism does. John was doing what God told him to do – prepare people to receive Christ.
     An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. v 25 The Jews did not believe that they needed washing. They felt they already belonged to the true God. Only gentiles who were converting to Judaism were washed (baptized). So, this “certain Jew” was probably arguing this fact.
John’s Disciples Are Threatened by Jesus’ Ministry
     They (John the Baptist’s disciples) 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 – well, He is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” V26
            Rabbi means “Teacher.” John the Baptist was esteemed by his disciples. Since John was their master teacher, they went to John the Baptist for clarification in this matter. John’s disciples didn’t fully understand who Jesus is and are feeling threatened by Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptist responded to his disciples’ concerns. “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” V27 John knew his calling and position. God had given him the job of forerunner who would introduce Jesus to the world. God honored John the Baptist by making him the prophet who would introduce God’s spiritual Lamb, Son and Bridegroom to the people. John would do only what God had called him to do! Previous Older Testament prophets had prophesied of Messiah, but John actually introduced Him to Israel. John did his job with humility and grace. No one can get more than God gives him or her. John understood this. If Jesus was getting disciples, it was because God was giving them to Him! There was no threat or jealousy in John the Baptist’s heart. It is important for every follower of Christ to know his or her calling and stick with it. We are not to be swayed into something else by others, but are to stay in the position to which we are called. We are to fulfill our calling with humility and grace, and are not to be jealous of the position and calling of others. John the Baptist knew that he could only do what God had called him to do – no more or no less. When the Body of Christ fully understands that we too can only do what God has called us to do, we will be in the right place and heart attitude to advance the Kingdom of God.
“I Am Not the Christ”
     John the Baptist had a large following from all over the region of the Jordan, Judea and Jerusalem. For this reason, some thought that John the Baptist might be the Messiah they had been expecting for over 400 years. John the Baptist reminds his disciples that he said, “I am not the Christ, but am sent ahead of Him.”  Although John’s birth was miraculous and he was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb, he is still just human and “of the earth.”  Jesus is the only One from heaven! He is the Son of God. No seed of man had anything to do with Jesus’ conception and birth. John the Baptist told his disciples, “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. He testifies to what He has seen and heard, but no one accepts His testimony……For the One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.  V31-32 Jesus who was in heaven at creation as the Word of God testifies of what He has seen and heard in the spiritual realm. He is above all. John the Baptist was a voice in the wilderness, but Jesus is the Eternal Word of God brought to life. Jesus has the Spirit without limit. He speaks the Word of God– nothing else -- with full authority. To hear Jesus is to hear God.
This Jewish prophet, priest, evangelist and teacher who was highly esteemed by many said of himself that he was not even worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. John knew how insignificant he was next to Jesus. In Christ, there are no longer Jews or Gentiles, males or females, denominations or distinctions. All of these distinctions die in Christ. Only He is to shine! When the Body of Christ and Israel understands as John the Baptist did, Christ will indeed shine over all the earth.
            John the Baptist spent his short earthly ministry pointing people to Christ. The angel told John’s mother Elizabeth that her son would herald in the Messiah and that many of the people of Israel will be brought back to their God through her son John’s forerunner ministry.  John’s voice was a lone voice in the wilderness in fulfillment of Isaiah 40:35. He fulfilled his calling. John knew the importance of confession and repentance of one’s sins in order to live a life of righteousness. He also understood the power of humility. In the flesh, people think the higher the position, the greater they are esteemed by God. However, in God’s eyes, all service is the same from the least to the greatest. Anything you do for God no matter how small is great in His eyes.
            John the Baptist wanted to make it clear to his disciples who Jesus is. Next John will reveal that he is the friend of the bridegroom, but Jesus is the Bridegroom.

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