A Percentage Problem
1. He cites a maxim: a man can receive only what is given him from heaven (27). Jesus repeats a form of this to Pilate in 19:11, explaining Pilate’s present power over Jesus. God’s sovereign rule means that ministers are allocated by him as he pleases and for his purposes.
2. He resumes his earlier stance (28) and refocuses on Jesus. This affirmation of Jesus’ unique and pre-eminent role enables John to reaffirm his own position as one sent ahead of Jesus as his servant.
3. John uses the vivid image of a wedding to re-express the emotion he feels towards Jesus and his commitment to the task he has been given to do for his Messiah (29). He, like the bridegroom’s friend, does not seek pre-eminence—it is not his day! Rather he rejoices at the union of the bridegroom with his chosen bride. The reference to Jesus as a bridegroom has echoes of Old Testament passages depicting Israel as God’s bride, and anticipates later New Testament teaching on Jesus as the bridegroom of the church.43 Used of Jesus against this background, it is another clear pointer to his deity (cf. Mk. 2:18–20).
4. He states a great principle of ministry. He must become greater; I must become less (30). Jesus must advance into the centre of the stage and John must retire to the wings, as the Messiah assumes his rightful rule in his kingdom and the bridegroom takes increasing claim over his bride. Few greater motto texts for ministry have ever been uttered. ‘Only a great man can accept his own demise with joy.’
11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13