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HG033. John 3:22-36

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:49
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John 3:22–36 NIV
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.

22-25

After the conversation with Nicodemus and after the Passover Jesus and His disciples head a little way out of Jerusalem, perhaps towards Jericho which is about 17 miles away to the North East. Note that Jesus spent time with them. He became exclusively theirs. I have said before that I think one of the great themes of the Bible is that God wants to be with His people. And Jesus being both Son of Man and Son of God wanted to spend time with His people. Seeing that this is what God wants to do should we not also make time to spend with Him. It is there that we will find the strength that we need each day and, frankly, who can put a value on time spent with God? In Acts when the disciples were brought before the Sanhedrin for the healing of a man hear what they thought of them:
Acts 4:13 NKJV
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
It has been something that has come up time and again in the last few weeks that our source of power for this life is found in Christ, His Spirit in us and in the cultured life of prayer, frequently in the presence of God. We can do nothing without Him.
were baptising or rather, we are told elsewhere, that He did not but His disciples. At the same time about 40 miles north John the Baptist was baptising. And they came, the ‘they’ being the people, were coming to be baptised. And we can already see the fate that will befall John, that he will be thrown into prison.
Then we see that they were baptising or rather, as we are told in chapter 4 next week, that He did not but His disciples. At the same time about 30 miles further north John the Baptist was baptising. And the people were continually coming to be baptised. This was still at a time when John had not been put in prison for his outspoken words against Herod.
We get this curious one-liner here in verse 25 of a conflict between the Jews and the followers of John. So, we are in the picture:
Baptism was about repentance and purification was for the daily getting right and ceremonial cleansing required by the law - some people were confusing and conflating the two for some were probably getting baptised more than once. As with any new work of God arguments arise but it is out of these that a biblical and theological understanding comes.

26

Now there were some who seemed to be concerned about the reputation of John were saying: Look! Someone else is baptising, in fact, it is the one that you said was the lamb of God, and now they are all leaving you, deserting you and going to Him instead!
It reminds me of a story told by a friend of Winston Churchill:
Look! Someone else is baptising, in fact, it is the one that you said was the lamb of God, and now they are all leaving you, deserting you and going to Him instead!
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 2671 Wanting Dog’s Sole Attention

It was Sir Winston Churchill’s standing order that when he returned by train from a trip that his dog Rufus should be brought to the station to meet him. Rufus would be let off his leash to dash to his master and be the first to greet him.

One day I happened to be standing close by. Rufus ignored his master and came leaping all over me instead. Of course Sir Winston loved Rufus too much to blame him. Instead, he turned to me with a hurt look and said quietly, “In the future, Norman, I would prefer you to stay in the train until I’ve said hello.”

They have got caught up in the competition and comparison. It is hard not to especially if your favourite preacher is the one being eclipsed by an upstart. Even here it is impossible to avoid the comparisons being made between myself and my predecessors and no doubt the next one will be compared to me and the others though I think that no one is now comparing me to Austin or Alwyn who both pre-war ministers here!
The followers of John had got caught up in the competition and comparison. It is hard not to especially if your favourite preacher is the one being eclipsed by an upstart. Even here it is impossible to avoid the comparisons being made between myself and my predecessors and no doubt the next one will be compared to me and the others though I think that no one is now comparing me to Austin or Alwyn who both pre-war ministers here!
John’s followers ask: Don’t you mind? It is interesting how professional jealousy arises. We’ve seen a lot of it the last couple of weeks after the declaration of the wages that certain people are being paid at the BBC. How dare he earn more than me! But I expect that the 40 women complaining about their wages are underestimating the jealousy at the lower rungs of the ladder in the organisation of both men and women earning close to the minimum wage and certainly nowhere near as much as they. Of course, I cannot judge how much anyone should be paid for their jobs especially in this industry but how easy people get riled when they see others doing better than themselves or if they are passed over for promotion. It is easy to think that all these things are unfair. There are so many unfair things, we think.
But John did not see it in these terms. He said, that’s OK - so what! He cannot have anything unless God had given it to him. Interesting viewpoint! Anything? Nothing we have was not given to us by God Himself in the first place. This comes down to even if we are wealthy or in poverty:
1 Samuel 2:7 NKJV
The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.
So much for equality.
Remember the parable of the labourers found in : someone agreed to be paid a certain amount for about 12 hours work. But then he paid someone who worked for one hour exactly the same! How unfair! Let’s get onto the unions! Let’s write a letter - they are getting paid 12 times as much! No, John is clear. Abilities, success, failure, richness, poorness are either denied by God or given by God. It is up to the Lord. It is God who lifts up or brings low.
This should not stop us defending the poor, which is also biblical, but this is a sermon for another time. This one is about what God gives.
I have seen spiritual jealousy too. “That person is really good with kids” and they do not say that with admiration but cursing inwardly. It’s like wanting the car that someone else has. There is a spiritual coveting of what other people have. Some people, it seems, have all the gifts, and some might have a measly one. We see what others have and want it for ourselves instead of being grateful for what we have and using that to the best of our ability. I never understood why people would be jealous of other Christians’ spiritual abilities except to have them as examples to learn from - but certainly not to have what they have and be better than them.

There is a fable that Satan’s agents were failing in their various attempts to draw into sin a holy man who lived as a hermit in the desert of northern Africa. Every attempt had met with failure; so Satan, angered with the incompetence of his subordinates, became personally involved in the case. He said, “The reason you have failed is that your methods are too crude for one such as this. Watch this.”

He then approached the holy man with great care and whispered softly in his ear, “Your brother has just been made Bishop of Alexandria.” Instantly the holy man’s face showed that Satan had been successful: a great scowl formed over his mouth and his eyes tightened up.

“Envy,” said Satan, “is often our best weapon against those who seek holiness.”

When I watch some preachers I go ‘wow’ but I am not them. Maybe I can learn something from them. Remember it is God who gave what they and we have. The stories in the Bible of such professional jealousy abound especially about Moses.
When I watch some preachers I go ‘wow’ but I am not them. Maybe I can learn something from them. Remember it is God who gave what they and we have. The stories in the Bible of such professional jealousy abound especially about Moses.
Moses was the meekest, the humblest, man who ever lived according to . Leadership challenges are not new, it did not start with Labour or the Conservatives. Whenever there was a challenge to his leadership Moses would throw himself down before the Lord. Why? Because it was God who had appointed him and who could justify his position. And God did; for the challengers either got diseased or died at the hand of God. John had the same spirit as Moses, let God be the judge. He was glad that someone else was taking the limelight, his time had come and gone. He did not make a grab for it but released it saying that it was God’s will.

27-30 Bridegroom

Look, he said, did I not make clear from the beginning that I am not the Christ, the prophet nor the chosen one. I am a friend, the best-man, however but who is the friend or best man at a wedding…nearly anonymous.
It was the friend who brought the bride to the bridegroom but after that the eyes are not on the friend, all eyes are, instead and rightly, on the bride and bridegroom. He helped prepare for the wedding but now, the one who it is all about was there.

My friend, the bridegroom is here, and I am extremely happy, this is what it has all been about. Now my job, says John, is to get out of the way and be in the background but I will continue to point to Him.
I wish we all could be like John. That we would be more about Jesus than about ourselves. The more we focus on Him the less it is about us. Our life before Jesus was extremely selfish and egocentric, even narcissistic. But after we have met Jesus it is no longer about ‘I’. I no longer live. We are dead and buried with the cross and burial. As Tom was good enough to point out last week my name, Ian, is an acronym; I Am Nothing. Absolutely he is right. The resurrected ‘I’ is Christ in me. I am nothing without Christ.
Hosea 2:19 NKJV
19 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy;
Hosea 2:9 NKJV
9 “Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its time And My new wine in its season, And will take back My wool and My linen, Given to cover her nakedness.
There are many instances of the bridegroom being mentioned in Scripture as either God or as Jesus culminating in:
And secondly, as the Church: We are in that secondary period now awaiting the bridegroom to arrive for His bride, the Church and great our rejoicing, more than that of John, when we see Him. After this we will be there in:
Revelation 19:7 NKJV
7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
Cor, I wish we all could be like John. That we would be more about Jesus than about ourselves. The more we focus on Him the less it is about us. Our life before Jesus is extremely selfish and egocentric and even narcissistic. But after we have met Jesus it is no longer about ‘I’. I no longer lives. Dead and buried with the cross and burial. As Tom was good enough to point out last week my name, Ian, is an acronym; I Am Nothing. The resurrected ‘I’ is Christ in me. I am nothing without Christ. We will look at this this evening as we are looking at this very verse.
But the history of the bride, first as Israel which was continually unfaithful to God and which almost ended in divorce but is now in a state of separation but they will get back together. And we as the Church are also called the bride and this will cuminate
Cor, I wish we all could be like John. That we would be more about Jesus than about ourselves. The more we focus on Him the less it is about us. Our life before Jesus is extremely selfish and egocentric and even narcissistic. But after we have met Jesus it is no longer about ‘I’. I no longer lives. Dead and buried with the cross and burial. As Tom was good enough to point out last week my name, Ian, is an acronym; I Am Nothing. The resurrected ‘I’ is Christ in me. I am nothing without Christ. We will look at this this evening as we are looking at this very verse.
This jealousy can extend to successful ministries within Swansea where some Churches have 500+ going to them. Should we be jealous? I don’t think so. The success of a Church is not based on numbers but upon faithfulness and whether we are more about Jesus than ourselves. Of course we would like larger numbers and, to be honest, if we don’t reach out then within 20 years we will be another closed Church. We are to be pointers to Jesus and not to ourselves. But, let us be clear, each of us have to be content and faithful with our own gifts and calling.
Why is this story here if it is not to remind us of the faithfulness of John. He just got on with what God gave him to do and the success or otherwise he left in the hands of God. It is absolutely necessary that each of us do the work God has given to us for it is only when each one does this that the Church grows maturely and numerically which is why I bang on about all of us being involved in the life of the Church. And then, when our time is done for the task God has set us we make space for upcoming people and their ministries.

31-36

And this is exactly what John does next. Look, I am from earth and can speak about earthly things but He, He is not of this planet, He is from a different dimension, He’s from Heaven itself and though this is absolutely true no one will accept His testimony. But I am telling you that you should. Everything He says is true. It is only when you accept this that you truly understand and can truly accept all that Jesus is and what He says. Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit and speaks the Words of God because He comes from God. To reject this testimony is to rebel against the highest authority in the universe.
Now, God has given everything into His hand because He loves Him, this is how important Jesus is. Love does not restrict itself. He has given all things into the hand of the One He sent. And we will also have a share in this if we have believed in Him.
The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 27: John John the Baptist: The Friend of the Bridegroom

How can the Father hold back anything from the Son whom He loves? Here is one of the central themes of this Gospel. He “has given all things into His hand.” Love does not hold back anything, nor does it measure out carefully little portions of the Spirit now and then. God has given all things into the hand of the One whom He has sent. So, those who believe in the Son are given all that the Father has shared with Him. First and foremost, this is life everlasting, the very quality of life that is in the Father. And this is not dangled out there in some way as a prize at the end for those who believe, but is given now. It is a present reality—life in the Father now through the Son.

And for Jesus to have been given everything means that He has power over everything and that He is the judge of it all.
For Jesus to have been given everything means that He has power over everything and that He is the judge of it all.
John then reconfirms what was said last week: if you trust in Jesus you will go to Heaven and have life, life eternal that starts right now, but if not, if not then, he says, you will not see life and God’s anger rests upon you.
God loves each and has gone the whole hog for people to come to Him but if they continue to rebel and refuse to come to Him…there are consequences. The Gospel does not allow us to sit on the fence or to have a neutral position for this is a position for compromise and the compromise is always for the against side. They have judged themselves worthy of staying in the wrath of God. The alternative to the life being offered is death and darkness.
This position is just not understandable until we realise that people just do not want God naturally for our sinful nature has blinded us completely and it is only by God’s grace that somehow we were reached. It is remarkable that anyone turns to God for we are so set in our ways but God draws everyone to Himself through Jesus who was lifted up on the cross and then it is up to us all to say yes to Him.
There are 3 musts in this very important 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel: You MUST be born again. The Son of Man MUST be lifted up. He MUST increase and I decrease.
The last words of John are terrifying for those who reject the gospel for this is no short, fleeting, passing reality but a sustained and changeless state where the wrath of God abides on them forever. Salvation can have no real meaning unless we are to be saved from real peril. We forget that God’s holy nature is in active opposition against all that is evil.
The Gospel according to John c. Reflection (3:31–36)

Unless we are saved from real peril there is no meaning in salvation.

The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 27: John John the Baptist: The Friend of the Bridegroom

We moderns have tended to sentimentalize and to tone down “the settled and active opposition of God’s holy nature to everything that is evil.”4

We moderns have tended to sentimentalize and to tone down “the settled and active opposition of God’s holy nature to everything that is evil.”4
Fredrikson, R. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1985). John (Vol. 27, p. 89). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.
We heard John’s opening statement saying:
. We heard John’s opening statement saying:
But we don’t have to remain under God’s wrath, we and all those we come into contact with can also escape if we and they trust Him. As soon as we do then we have already been given eternal life.
Let us hear again part of John’s opening statement to this Gospel which contains both realities and be part of that second group that have eternal life:
John 1:11–12 NKJV
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
And just in case we have forgotten: We must be a people that spend time with Jesus, we must accept what God has given us and be thankful, and we must be followers of and pointers to Him. Our lives are to be all about Jesus who has the preeminence. It is Christ who lives in me.

Bibliography

Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Bromiley, G. W. (Ed.). (1979–1988). In The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans.
Fredrikson, R. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1985). John (Vol. 27). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.
McGee, J. V. (1991). Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels () (electronic ed., Vol. 38). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 09:38 29 July 2017.
The Gospel does not allow us to sit on the fence or to have a neutral position for this is a position for the against side and this just leads to God’s wrath.
We can be born again because Jesus died and because He did this we glorify Him
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