The theme of John's gospel is that his readers would believe. The perspective of time and age lends wisdom to his writing as he conveys what's most important of his recollection of Jesus' ministry.

The Priority of Purification (John 3:22-24)

Jews had many rites of washing for purification. Jews of Jesus' day would even baptize themselves at times in cold water. Baptism usually served to identify a person with a group or with an individual's teaching. Jesus' disciples baptized people in Jesus' name during His ministry. John the Baptist baptized for the purpose of repentance, while later Christian baptism had a different purpose. It is a public display of one's faith in the Gospel and obedience to Christ. It is a commitment to use your spiritual gifting to serve while pointing others to Christ.

The Need for Personal Evaluation (John 3:25-30)

Gospel progress always experiences pushback. It's important to keep focus when debating tertiary issues.

Hendrickson names several characteristics of those who oppose the Gospel in this passage:

  • They have a spirit of anger and jealousy, never using Jesus' name.
  • They are disappointed that John the Baptist testifies of Jesus. Followers of one teacher usually never switched to follow another. John's pointing of others to Christ challenged the culture's understanding of the term "rabbi."
  • They use hyperbole and scarecrow arguments.

In contrast, John the Baptist gives a self-effacing response. He took joy in his mission of keeping Christ first. His ministry call was not to be altered or resigned. Similarly, our purpose is to live the life of Christ. It has been said that "criticism is the tax we pay on success." This criticism can be loud and unwarranted, but we must keep our focus on Christ and His mission for us.

Divine Clarification (John 3:31-36)

John the Baptist's message is sourced "from above." It is not his own. Our mission is also to share Christ, wait for His return, and follow Him in the meantime.

Application Points

  • Are you saved? Have you been baptized? The first step of obedience in response to Christ's message is to repent and trust Him.
  • Have you been distracted from your mission to live in a way that points to Christ? Self-evaluate and see if any less important matter is distracting you from your personal Gospel progress.
  • Are you using your gifts to serve in your local church? Don't make yourself the focus of attention; always magnify Christ.