AFTER THESE THINGS
John 3:22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24 For John was not yet cast into prison. 25 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
After what things? It was after the things in the encounter of Nicodemus with the Lord Christ, as set forth in John 2:23 – 3:21. Now both the Lord and John the Baptist are baptizing. The two greatest men born of woman are separately doing the same thing at the same time. And just as there was the confusion of Nicodemus concerning the identity and nature of the Lord, so now there is the confusion of John’s disciples, also in regard to the Lord.
But understand that the Lord Himself did not baptize with water. John 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,). He showed the future church throughout the ages that it is not the hands that baptize you into the physical waters that is of most importance, but he who baptizes with the fire of the Holy Spirit! Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Theses are the words of John the Baptist.
The issue in this last section of John chapter three (verses 22 through 36), concerns John causing his disciples to clearly understand both who the Lord Jesus was, and John’s relationship to him, both personally and in his ministry. And all this is brought up by a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews, or a Jew.
So whoever it was that were disputing, the issue was concerning Jesus’ disciples’ baptism, and John’s baptism, the issue focused around “purifying,” or ceremonial washing. But John was wise enough not to enter into useless religious debate. He knew that the real issue, as it always is, was the person of Jesus Christ and his authority.
For the Lord’s true identity is only revealed by the issue of heavenly discernment. Matthew 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
To this confusion John first gives a general answer that a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Then he reminds them of that which he has taught them before. He has always instructed them that he was most definitely not the Christ! And he insisted twice that I knew him not by human familiarity! He explains that he only knew him by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And THAT is how any and all come to know him. John 1:30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
These baptisms not only reveal to us who John was, for other than the Lord Jesus, he was the most unique man of all men. He was the only human being on the face of the earth who could look at another man and state, “This is very God. This is creator God. This is the very Lamb of God’s sacrifice who will take away our sin!” Therefore these baptisms were also set forth to reveal just who Jesus of Bethlehem really was! Matthew 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And yet there was another group whom these baptisms plainly identified. For in John 4:1 we read: When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, They were highly religious leaders who completely rejected their Messiah, plainly identified by his baptism. For they were only focused on that which all religious leaders are always focused on – how many followers does anyone have! And that was the same as John’s disciples who favored their involvement with John over the revelation of Messiah! John 3:26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
And John had to warn them concerning their wrongful focus. John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
There is a world of difference between the “wisdom” the religionist and that of the born again, spiritual man! 1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
The religious man is always focused upon his success. But as God cannot be unsuccessful, the true, God-called, spiritual man is focused on his faithfulness to God’s glory! 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. For he well understands that if he has been enabled to accomplish anything for Christ’s kingdom it was Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
And how are we to think of these baptisms? We are to remember that the entirety of the scriptures concern the Person of the Son of God. John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
And we are to remember that his words are spiritual words, or they will not be life words to us! John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. For the mere teaching of historical truth is a killing agent! 2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The belief we obtain from the catechisms is good, but must be held within the spiritual revelation of Christ to the soul. For the demons in hell believe in one God! They believe that Jesus is the very Son of God! They believe that he died on the cross! But they are still in hell! James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
We are expected to go on from the foundation issues – the A, B, C’s – of religion, even the doctrine of baptism, to attain to the fulness of Christ! Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.
And in doing so we will be led to see his baptism in a more complete picture. For as we reread Matthew 3:16,17, (listed above in the third column of the first page of this article), we also see the creation of the world order. For as the God-man rises through the waters and hears the Father state His being “well pleased,” so we recall the dry land from which man was created, breaking through creation’s waters, from which all men were created. And God also spoke of his pleasure in this natural creation. Genesis 1:9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
And this causes us to read Mark 4:1 in a more complete light. And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,
What do you see here, dear Reader? Is not this the Word on the water, bringing forth the life giving words of God, as in Genesis 1:1-3? Do you not understand that the sea represents the masses of human beings? Isaiah 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Revelation 17:15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
And do you not realize that Jesus Christ is Lord over all men, even the wicked? Matthew 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
For he ‘earned’ the right of sovereignty by his obedience, even to the death of the cross! Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
And he is the presently reigning Lord! Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
And the Lord knew the inner thoughts of the Pharisees, concerning his and John’s baptisms! John 4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Pastor Gene Breed
August 4, 2018