Lesson 16: John 3:22-30 – A Tale of Two Baptists

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 16 from the sermon series "The Gospel of John" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



Immersionists argue it doesn’t take “much water” (John 3:23) to sprinkle or pour, so baptism must be by immersion. But “Aenon” means springs. John wasn’t baptizing there because the waters were deep, but because they were plen-tiful. When someone would believe the gospel he preached, he’d dip hyssop in one of the springs and sprinkle them, as in Numbers 19:18. We know these Old Testament “washings” (Heb.9:10) were baptisms because the Greek word in Hebrews 9:10 is baptismos. Some argue that baptismos means to dip, but it was the hyssop that got dipped, not the people! (Num.19:18).

Notice this OT baptism by sprinkling was associated with purifying people who became ceremonially unclean by contact with a dead body (v.19-21). Right before the Lord establishes the kingdom, God will sprinkle believers in Israel to purify them from their sins (Ezek. 36:25).

The fact that the Lord followed John’s baptism ministry with one of His own shows He preached the same message, (Mt.3:2; 4:17). The fact that the 12 were also sent to baptize (Mr.16:16) shows they too preached the kingdom gospel. The fact that Paul wasn’t sent to baptize proves he didn’t preach the kingdom gospel of Mark 1:4.

John was “cast into prison” (John 3:24) for pointing out the king’s sins (Luke 3:19,20). Some think from this that we should reprove leaders for their sin, but it is our duty to be fishers of men, not clean up the pond. God has a plan to clean up all the sin and corruption in government—the Second Coming, when He sets up the millennial kingdom.

When the Jews asked John’s disciples about “purifying” (John 3:25) after all that talk about baptism, it proves that the Jews understood that this was the purpose of baptism. When baptism was part of God’s program, it was always for the purifying of the soul (Mr.1:4; 16:16; Acts 2:38).

Whatever the Jews’ question was, it informed John’s disciples that the Lord had set up a “rival” baptism minis-try, “and all men” were coming to Him (v.26). You’d think they’d be happy about that, but they were jealous, since the big crowds used to follow their master (Mark 1:4,5). We know they were jealous because of John’s response (John 3:27-30). He was saying, “I’ve been telling you I’m not the Christ! His crowds need to increase. But I guess you’re not going to receive it unless it is given you from heaven.”

That doesn’t mean it was heaven’s fault for not giving them the information. John clearly “witnessed” Jesus was Christ, they just hadn’t received it. Why not? Because men never want to let go of the things of a past dispensation! Besides, they liked being part of what was popular. This often keeps people from receiving the grace message. Of course, we who have received it cannot boast. All we did is receive a message from heaven, as we did salvation (cf. Eph.2:8,9).

The “bride” (John 3:29) are believers, and Christ is “the bridegroom” (cf.Rev.19:7,8). When two people marry, they become one, and when you get saved, you become one with Christ. The bride loses her identity in her husband. That’s why she changes her name to his, just as Genesis 5:2 says of Adam and Eve that God “called their name Adam.” And when we get saved, we lose our identity in Christ.

When John says “he that hath the bride is the bridegroom,” he is saying those who believed were Christ’s bride, not his! Grooms are often so nervous at weddings people can’t hear their vows, “but the friend of the bridegroom” (the best man) “standeth and heareth him” (v.29). Hear him say what? Hear him profess his love for his bride and his promise to care for her. Isn’t that what the Lord was saying to Israel in preaching the gospel to her? But Israel had to say “I do” fast for this was a limited time offer (Lu.5:34,35)

When Israel was bad, the prophets would tell them so (Jer. 25:4). When they didn’t listen, God allowed Nebuchad-nezzar to conquer them (v.9), and take away “the voice of the bridegroom” (v.10), i.e., their joy. But God promised the captivity would end (33:10,11), a type of the kingdom where the voice of the bridegroom would return when the Groom returned, and Israel took her name (33:14-16)

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