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Today is Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The understanding of John the Baptist

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John 3:27-32 “John answered and said a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.  You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, I have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.  Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.  He must increase, but I must decrease.   He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth.  He who comes from heaven is above all.  And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.”
John the Baptist answered his disciple’s complaints concerning Jesus.  John did not sympathize with their love of being a special group, set apart from others. John came to honor Jesus, not to build up a separate sect.  John celebrated the achievement of Jesus, and John began to teach his disciples to rejoice also.  John points out that a man can receive nothing that does not come from heaven. Even though we may not agree that our success is from God, because we believe that we make our own success, and that is not true.  John tells us his success comes from God.  All the success of Jesus came from God.  John tells his disciples that if Jesus and His disciples are successful, if all men come to Him, this is proof that God favors Him and we should all rejoice. John tells his disciple’s; even you bear witness to what I say.  You remember that at first I told you that I was not the Christ, I was a witness to the Christ, who is Jesus, and the only reason I have come, is to point out Jesus to the Jews as the Messiah.  You must not think that I am superior to Jesus, I am but the forerunner, I came not to form a separate sect, a denomination, a special faction, but to prepare the way that the people might be ready for His coming.  You should rejoice at His success and not envy it, for His success is the best proof of the greatness of my word, that He is the Messiah.   John draws an illustration from marriage.  The bride belongs to her husband.  In this context, before the crucifixion of Jesus, I believe the bride is Israel.  The bride of the Messiah belongs to Him and it is expected and desired that the people should gather to Him.  But the friend of the bridegroom, John the Baptist, is expected to attend Him on His marriage.  This is a high honor and is the nearest friend.  And the friend of the bridegroom rejoices greatly and holds himself highly honored by the proof of friendship.  John says his joy is this very thing that he has been called to do, to bring honor to the Messiah, and that people will come to Him and His success will be great.  John tells his disciples that Jesus must increase, His authority and His influence must grow and His truth will continue to spread until it covers the whole earth.  John explained that he must decrease, that the purpose of his ministry was to point men to the Messiah, and when that was done, his work was done.   John explained once again that he was not there to form his own party or to set up a religion of his own, and that his teaching must cease when the Messiah is established.   This reveals John’s humility and his willingness to glory only in Jesus.    
He that comes from above, the Messiah came down from heaven.  He is above all, in nature, in rank and in authority.  He is superior to all the prophets, as the risen Savior, He is over all the angels and is over all creation.  He that is of the earth has no higher nature than that of the human nature. The prophets and the apostles and John were men like other men and are inferior to Him who comes from heaven. Their teaching is inferior to that of Him who comes from heaven.  Though His teaching is plain, pure and inspiring, very few receive it in faith. There are multitudes that come to Him for various motives, although few become His true disciples.  It is His testimony, His doctrine, His truth to which He bears witness, that the Father favors Him, that He has seen and done great signs and miracles through the Holy Spirit, that He is, in truth, the Messiah, the Son of God.

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