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16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

  • Again (from yesterday), the context of John 3:16 is the bronze serpent incident in Numbers 21.
  • Notice that this is not a passage about how to become a Christian, but about God´s initiative to save sinful mankind. 
  • Overtaken by Matt 7:1 as most popular Bible verse.
  • Jesus was lifted up, just as the snake (!) was lifted up. We must look at/to him, not to ourselves, if we want to be saved.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

  • Without faith we stand under the judgment of God. Like the snake-bitten Israelites, we have a mortal problem. The venom of sin circulates in our veins. If we find the cure (looking to Jesus, exalted) then we are cured; otherwise we die--not (fundamentally) because we didn't notice Jesus, but because we have been poisoned.
  • Light has come into the world (v.19), yet darkness has not understood it (see 1:5).
    • This resistance is not just a matter of a psychological reflect against the light, or intellectual ignorance, but of moral opposition to the truth.
    • When we hear the truth of the gospel, a decision is required!
    • Throughout the gospel of John, the light shines into the lives of many persons: the Samaritan woman (chapter 4), the lame man (chapter 5), the fickle crowd (chapter 6) etc.

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized 24 —John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

  • In the Judean countryside Jesus´ disciples were baptizing (v.22). 4:2 clarifies that though Jesus was present, and probably presiding, he was not performing immersions personally.
  • Was the baptism administered by Jesus or his apostles the same functionally as John´s baptism?  It would seem so, in light of 7:39, since the Spirit was not yet conferred.
  • John the Baptist was baptizing in the same area, as well as at Aenon (v.23).
    • If real baptism were sprinkling or pouring, why would water need to be "abundant"?
    • Clearly immersion is in view, and this is also the meaning of baptisma.
  • The incarceration of John the Baptist is mentioned in John only in verse 24. This event is found in the synoptics in Matthew 14, Mark 6, and Luke 3.

25 Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

  • Yet once again John is directing his followers to Christ (vv.25-30).
    • John does not seem bothered that he is "losing members" (v.26).
    • (One) star of the wedding is the groom, not the groomsman, who should be seeking no attention for himself. "The bridegroom's voice" (verse 29) may refer to the groom's affirmation that he has successfully consummated the marriage, shouted to his friends waiting outside the tent or house.
    • This is the purpose of all Christian leaders: to point others to the Lord, not to make them dependent on themselves. See 2 Corinthians 4:5.
  • In verse 30, the words auxanein (grow larger) and elattousthai (grow smaller) have special significance. Astronomically, they are used of the rising and setting of stars. As John's star was setting, Jesus' was rising.

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

  • The testimony of Christ (v.31ff) is valid, and those who accept it certify God´s word as true. The one who comes from heaven is Jesus (see 3:13).
  • Christ speaks the word of God; he has received the Spirit "without measure" (v.34).
    • These words seem to be saying that Jesus was completely spiritual, completely connected with the Father, completely true in his life and words.
    • With reference to verse 34, Rabbi Aha said, "The Holy Spirit who rests on the prophets, rests on them only by measure" (Lev. Rab. 15:2).
  • If we do not accept the words of the Son of God, we are under the wrath of God. That is because all authority has been given to him; to reject Christ is to commit the worst sin, for one has cut off his only source of salvation.

Final thought: 

  • Can I make the words of 3:30 into a prayer, and then say it with all my heart?
  • The traditional Prayer for Humility is essentially an expansion of the Baptizer's words (3:30):

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, of being honored, of being praised, of being preferred to others, of being consulted, of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, of being rebuked, of being neglected, of being forgotten, of being ridiculed, of being wronged, of being suspected, of being injured, deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside; that others may be praised and I unnoticed; 
That others may be holier than I -- provided that I may become holy as I should --
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.