What God wants...

by Scott Vance on August 31, 2023

John 3:22-36 (ESV)
John the Baptist Exalts Christ
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).
25 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him." 27 John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' 29  The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30  He must increase, but I must decrease."
31  He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32  He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35  The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
This is an interesting passage and I had to look at it a couple of times this morning.  One of the things going on in this passage is that John is testifying, again, regarding the identity of Jesus; where Jesus is from, and what He is doing.  This is nothing new for John, and John has always held that Jesus is greater and that people should seek after and know Jesus more than himself.  John has always pointed to Jesus as the greatest and himself as only a humble servant.
A second thing that comes out in John's testimony is that there is a pretty clear choice; you're either with Jesus or you're not, and that choice has serious implications for eternity.  It’s tempting to read verse 36 and think that God is being petty in His wrath.  As N.T. Wright notes in his commentary on this passage, “the earth and all that is earthbound, will corrupt and decay.”  That’s true, but that’s not what we should focus on.  The point that we can’t miss is that God doesn’t want this outcome for His creation, including us.  God wants us to have life and to be filled with His Spirit (remember 3:16-17?).
That’s why we need to keep our focus on verses 34-35.  Jesus is the one who is speaking the words of God to the people, giving the Holy Spirit without limit, and revealing God’s love for us all through His birth, life, death, and resurrection.  So again, as with John’s own humble testimony, the identity of Jesus is being revealed as the Son of God, the bridegroom, who is revealing and pouring out God’s love and grace to us all.  That's John's testimony and his passion was for people not to focus on him, rather John wants us all to know Jesus and focus their lives on Him.
It’s utterly amazing when we think on it for a bit.  God wants us to know Him!  God wants us to know Him and we can.  But, like any significant relationship in our lives, it’s something that we must pursue.  So my encouragement to you—and if you’re reading this, be encouraged because you’re already engaged in this great pursuit—my encouragement to you is to pursue Jesus.  Spend time reading through the Bible and simply asking the Spirit to reveal Jesus to you as you read and as you seek to know Him.
God bless you and know that I am praying for you constantly.


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