Comments on John 3:22-36
From John: The book about Life, by Matthew R. Freije
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEģ, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.
When John the Baptistís disciples found out that Jesusí disciples were baptizing people, they mentioned it to John (3:26), expressing a somewhat competitive spirit. John responded, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven" (3:27). John made it clear that no work--ministry, project, task, etc.--will please God or bear fruit unless it has been assigned by God. If it's the work of people rather than of God, it will not bear fruit. Therefore, in order to do fruitful work thatís pleasing to God, we must pray and follow Godís leading, rather than deciding what we want to do, and concocting our own plans and strategies. Whatís more, we need to trust God, not only in deciding what to do, but also in the doing of it. The work must be performed by the Spirit of Christ, working through us, rather than in our own strength.
I am not the Christ (vs. 28). John the Baptist had accepted who he was--and who he wasnít. He clarifies that he is not the bridegroom (Christ), but one who rejoices greatly to hear the bridegroomís voice. John expressed no bitterness or resentment about having a lower rank than Jesus; in fact, he said that his joy had "been made full." John's statement is consistent with what Jesus taught in 15:4-11: the person who abides in Him (seeking, listening, submitting, obeying) will have His joy in him, and his joy will be full.
He must increase, but I must decrease (3:30). John accepted that he was not to be praised by people--Jesus was. John did not seek his identity, personal value, or contentment based on how his circumstances compared with those of other people. He focused on God, not on himself. He wanted to live out Godís plan for his life. And his identity was tied up in his relationship with God. Likewise, Christians should be content with God's will for them--nothing more, nothing less. We should view our circumstances, not through the eyes of the world, but from Godís perspective. Each Christian is given different gifts, talents, and opportunities; but one thing applies to all of us: Christ must increase, and we must decrease.
The Apostle Paul condemned those who compared themselves with others:
It is a great paradox, that people who seek to be recognized for their achievements, to protect their territory and rights, to gain control of people and circumstances, and to grab all the things and pleasures they can get, are among the most miserable. Yet those who abide in Christ, let God control their lives, are thankful in all circumstances, and seek praise for Him instead of themselves, are the ones who are filled with great joy.
Don't be discouraged about your attitude. Give it to Christ. Only Christ can make you a person who is content instead of miserable, who seeks praise for God instead of yourself, who does not compare yourself with others, and who participates in Godís work instead of trying to force his own plans. Christ transforms those who say Yes to Him. He wants to do good works through you. Say Yes to Him.
John the Baptist explains why he must decrease but Jesus must increase. He describes ways in which he is different than Jesus:
As explained in thecomments on 1:4,5, Jesus was in continual communion with the Father while on earth, speaking whatever He received from Him.
Back to verses 32 and 33: John the Baptist says that he has received the message of Jesus. He expresses confidence in his belief by saying that he knows that God is true. The same thing happens today to those who receive the message of Jesus and entrust their lives to Him: The Holy Spirit gives us confidence that God exists, and that He accepts us through Christ. As we seek God, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to better understand the ways, works, and wonders of God.
John the Baptist confirms what Jesus Himself said: "He whobelieves in the Son has eternal life."
It's no surprise that John (the writer of the book) quotes this statement made by John the Baptist, because John's purpose in writing the book was to convince the readers that they can have Life through Jesus Christ:
John makes the same point in another Bible book he wrote: Those who have Jesus have life; those who do not have Him do not have life--
He who does not obey the Son will not see life. The Greek root of does not obey is apeitheo. In the context of the Bible, apeitheo means to generally rebel against God instead of submitting our lives to Him. Strongís definition of apeitheo is "to disbelieve willfully and perversely." In the context of 3:36, to not obey the Son means to reject His message. In verses 32 and 33, John the Baptist said that he had received Jesusí testimony. Now he is referring to those who do not receive Jesusí testimony. Apeitheo is used in other verses to refer to those who rebel against God instead of placing their trust in Him:
The wrath of God abides on him. The one who does place his trust in Christ is under judgment (seecomments on 3:18).
Have you obeyed the Son, transferring your trust from yourself to Him? If youreceive Christ, you will immediately receive forgiveness, life, and freedom from God's wrath.
There is nothing you can do to earn forgiveness and new life through Christ. Christ is agift. Like any gift, you need merely to accept Him. You will never deserve Him. You can only admit your need for the gift, ask for it, and say Thank You.
Do you want to receive Christ now? You donít have to go to church to do it; no special ceremony is needed. To do it now, seethe comments under 1:12.