October 10, 2017: He Must Increase

Today’s Bible Reading:  Jeremiah 23-25Ecclesiastes 7:15-29, John 3:22-36James 5:1-6

John 3:22-36:

Note: As we go through John’s Gospel together over the next few weeks, I refer you to fuller comments in my recently published commentary on John’s Gospel, as well as the recently published Bible study guide. In addition, at College Church we are currently working our way through John’s Gospel on Sunday mornings, and that will provide you with another take on the material.

Take, then, and read a full analysis of this section of John, and this morning simply reflect on the following bullet points:

  • Baptism was practiced by John and also by Jesus’ disciples. Have you been baptized? If Jesus himself was baptized, and if Jesus’ disciples baptized, what prevents you from being baptized?
  • Jealousy spoils so much of life. It can even spoil our witness. How does John model an open-handed, humble, and “he must become greater, I must become lesser” approach to life and Christian ministry? What can we learn from verse 30, and how can we apply that example of John when we feel marginalized or unappreciated?
  • “The wrath of God remains on him” (verse 36). Do we look at the world in which we live, and all people outside of Christ, as those on whom God’s wrath remains? Does that make more sense of our experience of the disappointment and pain of this universe?
  • The choice that is presented in verse 36 is crystal clear: believe in Jesus, have eternal life; do not obey Jesus, do not have eternal life. Have we realized that there is no other way to find life other than through believing in Jesus? Do we make the stark choice of verse 36 clear to our unbelieving family and friends?
  • Note the parallelism between “believe” in the first part of verse 36, and “obey” in the second part of the verse. Evidently, to believe in Jesus means to obey Jesus. (See Paul’s phrase in Romans “the obedience of faith”). There is in faith a submission, obedience, to Jesus. Is that the kind of faith we have? Or is our faith merely “notional” – like believing that Australia exists but never visiting there, as opposed to believing that Australia is the greatest country in the world and therefore emigrating to Australia and becoming a citizen of Australia. The second kind of “believing” is what the Bible means by “believing in Jesus.” In other words, it means submitting ourselves in obedience to Jesus as God and the God of our lives.


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Share your thoughts
  • Vikki Williams
    October 17, 2017

    “What can we learn from verse 30, and how can we apply that example of John when we feel marginalized or unappreciated?”
    This part is in one of my favorite moments in all the scriptures.
    The schemes of the people who are provoking John with their words are exposed so plainly…
    Like were they really trying to pit John against Jesus? in competition with Him?
    And John’s humility allows him to respond as he does, to maintain his integrity, even teach these ruthless sinners.
    And I bet they never looked more ridiculous…

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