John 3:22 - John 4:3
John 3:22-24 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.)
After His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus left Jerusalem and settled for a little while in the province of Judea, not far from where John the Baptist was still calling for people to repent and be baptized.
John 3: 25-26 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.”
People began to leave John the Baptist and go to Jesus. This upset John’s loyal disciples. They didn’t think it was fair. John could have been bitter or jealous, but he wasn’t. Here’s his reply:
John 3:27-30 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.”
“A person can receive only what is given them from heaven” John knew the work God had given him and he was content being “second place.” God gives different roles to different people. The type of service to which God calls us is not what matters, but whether we do it for Him from our heart. The Bible says that God has prepared good works for each of us. When we do them they will bring Him Glory and us fulfillment.
John rejoiced that God sent him to point others to Jesus. John called Jesus the bridegroom and referred to himself as the friend who brings the bride to the groom. His disciples understood this idea, because the Old Testament speaks of Israel as God’s bride to explain His faithful love for them.
When Israel worshipped idols, God used the picture of an unfaithful wife to show Israel their dangerous spiritual condition. The New Testament calls the Church the bride of Christ and Jesus the bridegroom.
In this case “the bride” was the group of Jews John was to gather and bring to Jesus. When people left him and went to Christ – that meant he was doing his job!
“He must become greater; I must become less.” This should be the goal of every Christian: to live so others see Christ.
John 3:31-36 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.
This lists 4 distinct and divine qualities which set Jesus apart from John the Baptist.
His origin: Jesus was and is above all. He is from heaven; John is from earth.
Hi insight; Jesus spoke of what He had actually seen and heard in heaven. John’s knowledge was limited.
His truthfulness; “No one accepts his testimony” refers to the majority in John’s day – and sadly in ours too. The words of Jesus, Creator of the Universe are God’s words too. All that He says is true.
Jesus has the Holy Spirit without limit. John the Baptist ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit, but his power was limited. Jesus alone baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
John 4:1-3 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
When you compare the other gospels it seems like this is about the time King Herod imprisoned John the Baptist. Jesus still had much to accomplish, so got out of the limelight and went back to Galilee.