Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

John 3:22-30

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went to the Judean countryside, where he spent time with them and baptized.

23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. People were coming and being baptized, 24 since John had not yet been thrown into prison.

25 Then a dispute arose between John’s disciples and a Jew about purification. 26 So they came to John and told him, “Rabbi, the one you testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing—and everyone is going to him.”

27 John responded, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

The Original Intent

1) Why did Jesus go to the countryside and baptize? (verse 22)

John’s gospel was written for the purpose of revealing the Son of God to mankind. By this point in chapter 3, Jesus had performed His first miracle and been baptized by John revealing Jesus’ identity as the Father’s Beloved Son.

Jesus had overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple and chosen His twelve disciples. Word was quickly spreading about Him and a stir was created among the religious elite, one of whom was Nicodemus, who covertly met Jesus at night with questions. He wanted to be sure of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. This story of Jesus has become a cornerstone of Scripture.

It’s a great place to point people to Jesus as He self-identifies as the Son of God. Much had happened in a short time for Jesus, and a quiet place to rest was needed; though He was fully God, He was also fully human. He needed a chance to build a bond with His disciples. Moving into the countryside would have provided this opportunity. Here Jesus’ disciples began baptizing under Jesus’ authority (John 4:1-2) to confirm and validate baptism as an outward necessary identifier of following Jesus. Baptism was a symbol of repentance John used, and Jesus’ disciples followed suit under Christ’s authority.

The Everyday Application

1) Why did Jesus go to the countryside and baptize? (verse 22)

Just as Jesus escaped the busy demands of life and ministry for solitude and reflection, it is vitally important for us to find those quiet times, especially after an important public event or big expenditure of physical, emotional, and mental resources. The greater the expenditure of ourselves, the more important for us to get away to reflect. There is always a “down” after a “high” and we must take care not to allow Satan to neither pull us into depression nor elevate us into thinking how “great we are”.

We must take time to reflect on the work God has done, giving Him the glory for the work, and allowing Him to refuel us. Because we are human, we simply need time to rest. God provided this example from the beginning of time when He rested from His work on the seventh day. Concerning baptism, it is much like when Joshua set up stones of remembrance. Joshua’s stones of remembrance are just one monument in a series of memorials commemorating the mighty acts of God on behalf of the people of Israel. Explore these other memorials!

Passover (Exodus 13:3–6); Receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:4); Crossing The Jordan River (Deuteronomy 27:1–8); Possessing the Land of Canaan and God’s Covenant (Joshua 22:9–12Joshua 24:24–28); Victory at Mizpah (1 Samuel 7:12). To everyone else, the stones were just a heap of rubble, but to the people of God, they were a constant reminder that Yahweh was a personal and powerful God, working wonders on behalf of His people. (

Believers in Jesus are baptized to make a public statement of our faith and a reminder for us that we have covenanted to serve the Lord. Do you remember that day?

The Original Intent

2) Why were John’s disciples concerned about purification and Jesus baptizing? (verse 25)

The Scriptures first introduced the ritual of purification in Exodus 30:17-21. This Mosaic law commanded the priests to cleanse themselves before entering the tent of meeting or approaching the altar. When John introduced baptism as a means of marking oneself out as a follower of God, it was not at all strange. But the terrain changed after Jesus was baptized, was identified as the Son of God, and His disciples also began baptizing. This concerned John’s disciples because Jesus was drawing greater crowds than John and discussions arose about whose baptism was better, John’s or Jesus’. John quickly put a stop to this discussion because he knew his ministry was intentionally ending while Jesus’ ministry was beginning.

John was the forerunner of Christ; meaning he was only meant to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. John fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy as “A voice of one crying out…” (Isaiah 40:3) John was overjoyed for this transition because it evidenced his job was complete. He had accomplished what God ordained for him to do, Preach Jesus! The Believer’s Bible Commentary mentions that when Paul came to Ephesus and spoke with the believers there, they raised the question of baptism. (Acts 19:1-6) “When the apostle raised the question of baptism, he found out that these men knew only about John’s baptism. In other words, the extent of their knowledge was that the Messiah was at hand, and they had signified their repentance by baptism as a necessary preparation for receiving Him as King. They did not know that Christ had died, had been buried, and had risen from the dead and ascended back to heaven, and that He had sent the Holy Spirit. 

Paul explained all this to them. He reminded them that when John baptized with the baptism of repentance, he urged them to believe … on Christ Jesus.” (William McDonald, The Believer’s Bible Commentary)

The Everyday Application

2) Why were John’s disciples concerned about purification and Jesus baptizing? (verse 25)

At first glance, this verse about purification seemed out of context to me. I had simplified the sacrament of baptism to a public proclamation of our salvation, which it is, but I did not connect it with the Old Testament concept of purification. So, what does water baptism represent? Let’s look a little deeper.

When a person is baptized by water, they are immersed or “covered over” with water. Water baptism represents the complete washing away of our sins. Immersion into the water represents death to our sins; our old way of living life is buried. When we rise from the water, it represents that just as Christ was raised, we, too, are raised from death into new life. (Romans 6:3-4) (Guzik, Enduring Word)

John’s baptism was for repentance, preparing the way to trust Christ for full salvation. Jesus’ baptism was for salvation and new life. This new life begins when the Holy Spirit enters our hearts and lives (baptism by His fire) as we confess Him as our Savior and repent of our sin. Water washes us clean, but dirt (sin) can return, and we need to wash again. This was the case for everyone up to the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Fire (the Spirit of God) burns away sin and makes us pure (like gold or silver), accomplishing what water alone cannot. (1 Peter 1:3-9) The Holy Spirit then gives “us everything required for life and godliness”. (2 Peter 1:3)

The Original Intent

3) Why would John say, “He must increase, and I must decrease”? (verse 30)

John the Baptist understood it was good for him to become less visible and known in order for Jesus to become more visible and known. 

He recognized it was time for his ministry to lessen and Jesus’ ministry to flourish. John did not quit his work at this time, but he desired that everything he did pointed to Jesus, the pinnacle of his life’s work. He knew God had ordained his life to prepare others for Jesus, and he delighted in this! (David Guzik, Enduring Word)

The Everyday Application

3) Why would John say, “He must increase, and I must decrease”? (verse 30)

John the Baptist exemplifies for us it is possible to be popular and successful while still humble. He is a true example of humility for us.

In 2015, John 3:30 was my theme verse accompanying my word of the year (One Word), “Less”. The Lord gave me this word to prepare me for what was to come. I was dealing with chronic illness and slowly realizing I needed to give up increasingly more of my leadership roles.

So many things became less in our lives right down to Michael’s pastoral position, losing our place to live, having to downsize our lives, losing salary and benefits which led to no money in the bank account. God had prepared us to live “less” by the sustenance of His humility and grace. Becoming less is a characteristic meant to apply to all who claim to follow Christ, especially as we relate to each other within the church.

In our shared ministry, Michael and I often trained up people to go on and do greater things than us. We were thrilled to witness this! We have seen this in small churches, as well. We called them “sending churches”. They never rose above 75 people, but so many preachers, missionaries, and leaders came to these churches, found the Lord and moved on to do remarkable things.

This is the “significance of purpose” John the Baptist embraced, and we find delight when we do the same; humility is key to the Christian’s satisfying life.

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