Teaching on the Gospel of John by Rev. Dr. Nadine Burton

The Gospel of John Chronicles

Chapter Three

After John’s message to the larger audience in the first part of John 3, attention is turned to his testimony of Jesus, where it also modulates into an address by the Rabbi of the Johannine church to the reader.[i]  Jesus baptized people along the southern border of the Judean countryside, while John baptized people at Aenon near Salim. Since Jesus began his earthly ministry as John’s Disciple, it is unique to John’s gospel that we find Jesus baptizing as part of this Johannine practice.

A question arose by a Jew as to ceremonial washing. John’s baptism was understood to affect forgiveness and purification, and the identification of Jesus as the Christ.[ii] John replied to the accusation and reiterated that he was not Christ but was sent ahead of him. John used an illustration of those waiting on the bridegroom to show up. “In baptizing, as in all else; Jesus is superior to John, and John happily acknowledges his own subordinate role – he is the best man, not the bridegroom.”[iii]  He shared that one can only receive what is given from heaven. They are full of joy when they hear the bridegroom’s voice. He goes on to state that this is what he was feeling, a joy that was complete, because of Jesus’ identity and purpose. He shared “He must become greater; I must become less.”  

John goes on to identify God and Jesus. The one who is from above (Jesus), testifies to what he has seen and heard. He suggests that no one believes the testimony of the one who is from above. Jesus, the one who God sent, speaks the Word of God, and substantiates the love that God has for his him. And because of this love, he has placed everything in his hands and gives the Spirit without limit. He goes on to make the statement that whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, and who whoever does not believe in the Son, will not see life, because God’s wrath remains on him. “The opposite of faith is not only unbelief, but disobedience. For John…faith is not merely the intellectual acceptance of a claim as true, but the response with one’s whole life, which includes obedience.”[iv]

I pray that as we reflect on this passage, God would illuminate our hearts and mind to receive and understand the message being shared. 

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i  Boring, M. Eugene, and Fred B. Craddock, The People’s New Testament Commentary, pg. 299.
ii  Ibid.
iii Ibid.
iv Ibid., pg. 300.

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