John 3:22-36

Ceremonial vs. true washing. I am not the Christ. The word of God. The basis for judging.

(Bấm vào đây để đọc tiếng Việt)


22After this, Jesus and his disciples came into Judean territory, and there he spent time with them and was baptizing. 23John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming to him and being baptized. 24(For John had not yet been thrown into prison.) 25Now a dispute came about between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew concerning ceremonial washing. 26So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River, about whom you testified – see, he is baptizing, and everyone is flocking to him!” 27John replied, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. (John 3:22-27)

Recalling John 1:33, John the Baptist draws a comparison between his water baptism and that performed by Jesus, stating, “He is the one who administers baptism through the Holy Spirit.” Additionally, in the subsequent chapter, verse 2 clarifies that “It was Jesus himself who was not directly performing baptisms, but rather his disciples were (John 4:2).” Consequently, any dispute between John the Baptist’s disciples and the Jews becomes insignificant, as only the baptism administered by Jesus through the Holy Spirit holds the power to grant eternal life.

John the Baptist might possess insights into the significance of the baptism he conducted for Jesus, as he articulated, “I came baptizing with water so that he could be made known to Israel (John 1:31).” This purpose differs from the conventional understanding. Furthermore, he understood that whatever the Jews and even his own disciples were seeking could solely originate from a divine source; ritualistic cleansing or water-based baptism holds no true significance.


28You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but rather, ‘I have been sent before him.’ 29The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my joy, and it is complete. 30He must become more important while I become less important.” (John 3:28-30)

Christians often have a tendency to exalt messengers, especially those possessing charismatic qualities, to unwarranted heights. It’s not surprising that John the Baptist might have perceived this inclination among his followers. While John speaks extensively about Christ, his followers may not truly perceive Christ; instead, they are captivated by John and his compelling persona.

Consequently, John finds it necessary to humbly diminish his own prominence and accentuates that “He must increase, while I decrease.” Moreover, his genuine joy stems from the advent of the one he has been anticipating, the very purpose for which he was sent ahead to proclaim. Human nature often leads individuals to vie for God’s glory, as they become accustomed to receiving near-worship from their listeners. This distorted form of adoration is exemplified in the events recounted in Acts 14:8-18.


31The one who comes from above is superior to all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is superior to all. 32He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33The one who has accepted his testimony has confirmed clearly that God is truthful. 34For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he does not give the Spirit sparingly. (John 3:31-34)

As touched upon in the preceding section, it’s a common human inclination to seek answers from their spiritual guides, particularly in matters of salvation. John the Baptist takes it upon himself to convey that Jesus holds the ultimate answers and stands as the definitive authority. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, serving as the exclusive path to God (John 14:6).

What constitutes the content of the “words of God” that Jesus imparts? These encompass the gospel of Jesus Christ, elucidating precisely how every individual burdened with sin can attain salvation. They encompass a comprehensive delineation of God’s strategy for redeeming humanity. How can we be certain that Jesus imparts a thorough message from God? Our certainty derives from the fact that God bestows the Holy Spirit upon Jesus without restraint, “unsparingly.”

Hence, the reason becomes evident as to why John proclaimed in verse 27: “A person cannot receive anything unless it has been given to them from heaven.” Jesus was bestowed upon us directly from heaven.


35The Father loves the Son and has placed all things under his authority. 36The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him. (John 3:35-36)

The reality conveyed within these two verses has already been articulated in verses 19 to 21 of our previous study. It underscores that the criterion for humanity’s judgment is not rooted in their propensity to commit sins, as everyone is prone to sin, but rather in their decision to “place their faith in the Son” or “reject the Son.” This perspective ought to influence our interactions with the world of unbelievers. Often, Christians may tend to perceive themselves as morally superior to those who lack faith, yet this passage should serve as a poignant reminder that our status is no loftier than the most egregious transgressors. Our salvation stems from the unmerited favor and compassion of God, who paved a pathway to Himself through the avenue of faith.

(Next study: John 4:1-22)

Nghi Nguyen

- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen

Filed under: , and