23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison. 25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified--behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!" 27 John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.' 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Questions to Consider:
It seems that some of John the Baptist's disciples were perturbed by the rising popularity of the young Rabbi, named Jesus. Jesus (according to them) was baptizing people and furthermore, it seemed that "all" the people were flocking to Him. This would indeed have been a huge problem if people were gathering around a false prophet, which would have been a legitimate concern. John belays his disciples' concerns with a very strong endorsement of Jesus.
John the Baptist was armed with something that his disciples seemed to lack; he had a prophetic understanding of who Jesus was and the personal mission that God had purposed for him. This certain knowledge made John self-actualized. John knew who he was and knew what he was called to do. He had no regrets!
John compared himself to a groomsman who is happy for the groom and the bride, while making it clear that he was not the Christ or the groom of the bride. There are a number of instances in the New Testament where Jesus is pictured as the groom and the church His bride. Jesus, Himself makes this analogy. (Matthew 9:15)
Finally, John tells his followers that "He" (Jesus) must increase, as "I" (John) must decrease. It is quite possible that John was aware that the end of his ministry and life was nearing an end, while Jesus public ministry was just beginning. John closes by acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God.
Personal Note: I wish that I could say that I never suffered with feelings of envy, and that I always found "joy" in the accomplishments of others. If I said that...I would be a liar in addition to being an envious person. We live in a culture that reeks of success orientation and competition. In basketball circles I hear the arguments over the question of who is the greatest player ever to play in the NBA? Was it Michael Jordan or LeBron James? (Easy, MJ) In all the time I have heard these vain arguments, my name has never been mentioned, not even once. Am I a success in life--who knows? Let me tell you what I do know--I am loved by God.
Lead Teaching Elder: