John 3:25-30
John 3:25 (KJB)
Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
Question - Controversy or debate
It is not known exactly as to what type of purification is in view but since the term “the Jews” is used, it means that the leaders, maybe the Pharisees, had begun to drum up some strife concerning some type of ceremonialism, which no doubt, was added to the law by them or one of their predecessors. It looks like they were trying to cause a rift between the disciples of John. It might have been the ritual washing of certain parts of the body such as hands or feet in comparison to water baptism which would have engulfed the entire body. Whatever it was, it looked like another theological debate aimed at discrediting John or Jesus and His followers.
John 3:26 (KJB)
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.
Here we have an intimation of preacher worship. The disciples of John came to him after they had the debate with the Jews concerning purification. They had called John, “Rabbi” which was a term given to those who were considered excellent teachers. These disciples did not see that there was coming a separation and something greater than baptism was at hand. They seemed to have a jealousy that John’s ministry was waning and the ministry of Jesus was getting larger. Maybe they felt that if John’s ministry faded out, then so would their “notoriety.” Unfortunately, at this point John’s disciples did not see the bigger picture but John did. They seemed to be more attached to John than the ministry and that can happen if we follow any preacher. We can form an attachment to a preacher and fail to see that he is only a man.
John 3:27 (KJB)
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
Whatever ministry John was given, and he was the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ, was not a ministry which he took to himself but knew that his ministry was given to him by God. (John 1:6 KJV) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. Back in John 1:6, we read that John was sent from God which means he had a specific ministry to perform. He was to introduce the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb and Son of God. This was done, and now John’s ministry was waning as a transition was taking place. John was basically telling his disciples that since their ministry was from God, that if God chose to end the ministry at a certain time, it was His prerogative.
John 3:28 (KJB)
Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
Here John reminds his disciples that he has openly preached that he is not the Christ. He is telling them that he had a specific ministry and that was to present the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. They were not to be following John, but they are to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. John is only the minister and not the Messiah. It is sad but so many preachers today think they are the Messiah.
John 3:29 (KJB)
He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
Here is a prophetic statement made by John that Jesus is the bridegroom and has the bride. (Rev 21:9 KJV) And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. In Scripture the body of believers is known as the bride of Christ. John speaks of Christ being the bridegroom because it is Christ who is going to die for His bride. John sees himself as the friend of the bridegroom, just like Jesus calls all His children friends. (John 15:14-15 KJV) Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. {15} Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. So every believer is also a friend of the bridegroom. John then states that his joy is great because of the bridegroom’s voice, that is, the promised Messiah has finally come to Israel. John joins this analogy of the wedding with the reality of the fact that there will be many who will be saved through the bridegroom and as a friend of the bridegroom he had a part in that wedding by introducing the bridegroom.
John 3:30 (KJB)
He must increase, but I must decrease.
Increase - Grow or become greater
Decrease - Diminish or make less
Here John speaks concerning his ministry with his disciples. Since his ministry was now waning, he was not going to make more disciples. Since the ministry of Christ was now increasing, He would now make more disciples, which would eventually turn into millions of believers who would become saved up until the last day. So John knows that a transition point was met when he introduced the Lord Jesus Christ at the Jordan River. He knew that his ministry was now ancillary to the ministry of Christ. This verse is also a necessary ministry principle. Those ministries who have the preacher or teacher as the main person will suffer. This is because those who garner disciples unto themselves will eventually become so enraptured by pride that they will no longer have a biblical ministry and will sink into total apostasy. On the other hand, the ministry who sees themselves as a conduit for God to use to bring people to Christ will be a strong ministry and will remain stedfast in the Lord’s work. The preacher or teacher who see themselves as secondary, and not just in phony humility, will have a strong ministry and will be a fruitful one. When preachers or teachers make the focus of their ministries the Lord Jesus Christ, they are keeping the proper perspective of what true biblical ministry is all about. Those preachers or teachers who teach their own ideas and concepts, such as date setting, are gathering disciples to themselves and their ministries will be as apostate as can be. So to be a successful Christian is to keep your ministry focused upon the Lord Jesus Christ through the proper understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures.