John 3:22-36 - The Proper Attitude for Ministry
“He Must Increase”
‘The Proper Attitude for Ministry’
The Last Words of a Humble Man (3:22-30)
A. The Last Days of John
1. John the Baptist received a great deal of popularity as the result of his preaching.
a) Matthew tells us that people came to him from “Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan” (Matt.3:5).
(1) This included—the Pharisees, Sadducees, tax collectors, soldiers, the rich, and the poor.
b) John’s popularity came to the palace of Herod. Herod called for John and listened to him preach.
(1) Herod heard John gladly and did many good things (Mk.6:20)
(2) When John had spoke out against Herod living with his brothers wife (Mk.6:17-19), this angered Herodias (Philips wife) and eventually she succeeded in having John arrested and later killed (Mk.6:14-29).
(3) At the time that John wrote his gospel, John’s imprisonment had not yet occurred (Jn.3:24).
2. There arose a dispute between John’s disciples & the Jews about purification (3:25).
a) Jesus and His disciples were baptizing, though His disciples are the ones who actually did the baptizing (Jn.4:2).
b) John and his disciples were baptizing as well in Aenon near Salim (Jn.3:23)
c) The religionists questioned the purifying value of John’s baptism
(1) They thought if John’s baptism was really meeting the peoples needs, then why were they deserting John and flocking to Jesus?
(2) This, of course, cut John’s disciples to the core, they felt that John’s ministry was being threatened, so they asked John why many were turning to Jesus instead of remaining with him.
(a) This was a human reaction on the part of John’s disciples over the success Jesus was having.
(b) This also presented a temptation to John Himself.
(1) He spent many years of loneliness, rejection & self-denial in the wilderness.
(2) Having experienced headline success, John began to see it all fade away.
(3) John very easily could have asserted himself.
d) We all need to know how to react when asked to take a lesser role.
(1) There is much competition between Christians.
(a) Moses faced this (Num.11:26-30)
(b) John (Jn.3:26-30)
(c) The disciples themselves argued over who would be the greatest (Mk.9:33-35)
(d) Paul himself had this problem of facing people who preached out of selfish ambition (Phil.1:15-17) but Paul had set an example by his reaction (v.18).
(2) Our competitive society compels us to measure our achievements against those of others.
(c) It is not wise to measure yourself against another person (2Cor.10:12).
(d) Every man follows some master and gives his allegiance to something, whether a person or thing (Matt.6:24; Rom.6:16).
(e) Only Christ can purify a man’s heart and give him true cleansing from sin!
B. The Necessary Ingredients for Achieving Humility (3:27-28)
1. Having an awareness of God’s Sovereignty in all things.
a) John knew that Jesus was not stealing these people away, but rather, God was giving them to Christ to be His followers.
b) We must not be jealous over another through whom God apparently achieves more.
2. Knowing that our spiritual insight is from God.
a) Jesus taught this in response to the unbelief of certain cities which great works were done (Matt.11:25).
(1) Peter’s revelation of Jesus being “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt.16:13-17).
(2) God opened the heart of Lydia (Acts 16:14).
(3) Paul wrote (1Cor.4:7).
b) To recognize that all spiritual insight and advance come from God is to be freed from all jealous efforts at comparison.
1Corinthians 4:7 What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?
(1) 1Cor.15:10; Eph.2:10; Phil.2:12-13; Titus 2:14; 2Pet.1:20-21
(2) Recognize that all increase if from God (Lk.17:5; 1Cor.3:6-7; Col.2:19).
(3) We must recognize that all Christ centered, Christ committed service, ranks equally with God.
(4) Any task done for God is necessarily a great work.
3. Self awareness
a) The example of Moses (Numbers 11:26-29)
b) Moses had seen God’s glory and it gave him great joy to see others exercising their spiritual gifts.
(1) Numbers 12:3 says that “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”
c) The spirit of Moses & John were much the same (3:28)
d) John knew who he was and what it was to which God had called him.
(1) If we have this same attitude we will remember that apart from Christ, we are nothing (Jn.15:5).
(2) There was no rivalry, jealousy, insecurity or bitterness in John’s life (Romans 12:3).
(3) Moreover, John kept ministering, he stuck to his appointed task from God!
(4) Has someone come into your life who is obviously more gifted, talented or more effective, someone you are finding difficulty accepting?
(5) You need to remember JOHN 3:27.
II. The Bride and the Bridegroom (3:29-30)
A. The Proper Attitude (3:29)
1. Illustration of the Hebrew Wedding.
a) John said he was like the best man, like “the friend who attends the bridegroom.”
William Barclay – The “friend of the bridegroom,” the shoshben, has a unique place at a Jewish wedding. He acted as the liaison between the bride and the bridegroom; he arranged the wedding; he took out the invitations [us giving out the gospel]; he presided at the wedding feast. He brought the bride and the bridegroom together. And he had on special duty. It was his duty to guard the bridal chamber and to let no false lover in. he would only open the door when in the dark he heard the bridegroom’s voice and recognized it. When he heard the bridegroom’s voice he was glad and he let him in, and he went away rejoicing, for his task was completed.”
b) John found his fullness of joy in his Masters voice & so are we for we are the bride of Christ.
(1) Do you hear the voice of God & follow Him (John 10:27)
(2) John found joy in leading others to Christ: do we have this same joy?
(3) Do you find joy & the desire to fulfill the task the God has given you (Col.4:17 cf. 2Tim.4:5)
(4) Since we are the bride of Christ, we should be looking for his return (Matt.25:1-13 cf. 1Jn.3:3).
2. John had his eyes fixed on Christ.
a) John knew it was not his wedding, it was his function to serve the groom.
b) This applies to all Christians:
(1) If we have our minds on other people, we will always find room for pride.
(2) No matter how bad we are or how poorly we are doing, we will always be able to find someone who does things worse and be proud that we are better.
c) If we have our eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb.12), we know that He is so infinitely above us that we will only consider ourselves at best only His unprofitable servants.
Arthur W. Pink “Humility is not the product of direct cultivation, rather it is a by-product. The more I try to be humble, the less shall I attain unto humility. But if I am truly occupied with that One who was ‘meek and lowly in heart,’ if I am constantly beholding His glory in the mirror of God’s Word, then shall I be ‘changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (2Cor.3:18).”
· Do we live our lives looking unto Jesus, caring what He thinks and not worried about the critical judgments of those of this world?
· Or are we constantly thrown off balance by the world and its values & opinions?
· Hebrews 12:1-2 cf. Philippians 1:6
· JOHN 21:20-22
d) Rejoice in the success of our brothers & sisters in Christ (1Cor.12:26)
(1) John faced a temptation that could have easily overcome him.
(2) John’s humility was the key to his greatness just as was Moses.
(3) The ultimate example of humility was “our Lord” (Phil.2:5-11)
(a) We too must die to ourselves & put others first.
B. The Proper Conduct – “He Must Increase” (3:30).
1. Division in the Church – Christ is the One to have the “preeminence” (Col.1:18).
a) There are those who are “divisive” in their ways as was Diotrephes (3Jn.1:9).
b) Leaders are not to Lord over God’s heritage (1Pet.5:3)
(1) Never try to exalt yourself (Matt.23:12)
(2) Do not look to receive honor from others (Jn.5:44)
(3) Do not be a man pleaser (Gal.1:10)
2. John wanted the increase of glory to go to Jesus Christ.
a) William Carey, a great missionary to India said, “When I am gone, don’t talk about William Carey; talk about William Carey’s Savior. I desire that Christ alone be magnified.”
(1) Paul the Apostle had the same attitude (Phil.1:19-22)
3. The story of Jonathan and David
a) After David’s over Goliath (1 Samuel 18:1-3), Jonathan became one in spirit with David.
b) That commitment grew in time, and Jonathan set himself to make David king, although as the oldest son of Saul, King of Israel, Jonathan was heir apparent to the throne.
(1) Rather than pursuing his own interests and advantage, Jonathan acted as a reconciler between his father and David and literally saved David’s life.
c) The day David became king, Jonathan was not there, for he had died in battle with his father.
(1) David’s mourning cry for his friend Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:26)
(2) Jonathan was a man, who seeing another who is anointed for an greater task, joyfully accepted God’s appointed design (Jn15:16).
d) Is God speaking to you about these things?
(1) It is hard to harbor animosity or jealousy toward someone whom you are praying for.
(2) Covenant before God to either say something or pray blessing’s for the one who you envy.
A. Jesus Is God
B. The Church
C. Sex and Marriage
D. The Lords Return
1. Jesus alone was the Bridegroom (v.29-30)
a) He is the one by whom the friend stands (v.29a)
b) He is the voice that is to be heard (v.29b)
c) He is the cause of joy (v.29c)
d) He is the only object of loyalty (v.30)
III. The Revealer Has Come (3:31-36)
A. The Perfect Witness
1. Jesus alone was from above—from heaven (v.31)
a) Meaning: “Out of” (v.31a)See: DS1
b) Result: Jesus is above all (v.31b)
B. First Hand Information
1. Jesus alone was God’s Spokesman (v.32-34a)
a) He testifies (v.32a)
b) Some reject (v.32b)
c) Some receive and seal His testimony (v.33)See: DS2
d) Proof: Sent from God and speaks God’s Word (v.34a)See: DS3
C. A Willing Witness
D. Reliable Testimony
Jesus alone had the full measure of the Spirit (v.34b)
E. Answer 6:
1. Jesus alone determines man’s destiny (v.35-36)
a) To believe Him brings everlasting life (v.36a)See: DS4
b) Not to obey Him brings wrath (v.36b)See: DS5