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Part 8: John the Baptist’s Final Testimony (3:22-36)
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Jesus now leaves Jerusalem and heads out into the “Judean countryside”. Here in this little prelude we see Jesus and John the Baptist being compared to each other. This isn’t the negative comparison that world does, but rather it is a comparison of just the facts. Then we come to verse twenty-four and we get a preview of things to come. It tells us that John wasn’t in jail yet.
From this we shift the scene just to John and his disciples. An argument arises between one of his disciples and the Jews about purification, or the purpose of baptism. It is right here in verse twenty-six where the comparison really starts. This comparison is started or stated in a negative way. “Everyone is going to Him instead of us.” This is almost a complaint on the part of John’s disciple. Can’t you feel the thought going through the man’s head and hear his winy tone of voice? He’s thinking to himself: “If you’re really from God as you say you are then why is everyone going to Jesus rather than coming to us?”
John jumps at this question without even flinching. He starts off telling them that anything that anyone has is directly from God. This really is a call for them to wake up and start thinking. From here John again points out that he is not the Messiah and jumps into a beautiful metaphor for his and Jesus’ ministries and how they complement each other. His metaphor of a groom and best man eloquently articulates this point.
The idea here is that a man will pick his best friend to be his best man at his wedding. This best friend is full of joy for his friend’s wedding. How could he not be? The next statement is because Jesus “has come to His wedding” the best man has to step out of the spotlight and allow the groom to take the spotlight. This is natural in its flow. Of course the best man must step out of the spotlight to allow the wedding to proceed. If the best man stole the spotlight would he really be the best man or rather an opponent?
John the Baptist moves her from his metaphor of marriage, or a wedding, onto telling what he means. John makes a statement about Jesus twice, here, but only makes the statement about himself once. “The one who come from above is above all,” he says about Jesus, but the one from the earth (John, himself) can only speak of earthly things. Then John goes on to restate what he had said about Jesus, but this time pointing toward heaven rather than just “above”. John deals with Jesus’ testimony next.
Here John echoes Jesus’ words from earlier in the chapter (verse 11). He starts moving into a grand statement about not only Jesus’ ministry, but who Jesus is, exactly. “The one who does accept His words,” this person will put all of themselves “on the line for this one thing: that God is truth, completely and totally.” This statement points out what we have to do to really say we believe in Jesus. We have to believe “that God is true.” (ESV) If you stop and truly think about this statement you see: How can it be any other way? How can you believe in something that you think is a lie?
John moves onto material that Jesus, Himself, covers later (Chapter 5). John succinctly gives his explanation of who Jesus is. This is how Chapter 3 closes. It started with grand, eloquent statements made by the Son of God and it is ended with statements of the authority of the Son. “The Father loves the son so much that He put everything under the Son’s control.” The WEB translates this verse “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”
The final remarks of John the Baptist in this chapter reflect Jesus’ own in verse 18. This allows us to see the unity across teaching. So it comes down to one question at the end of this chapter: Do you believe in the Son of God, Jesus, or not?