Today we are going to see the beauty of Christ. Read John 3:22-36. Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem and went to the Judean countryside and were baptizing people. At the same time, John the Baptist was baptizing people at another location. We see two groups of believers overlapping one another; Old Testament believers and New Testament believers. John was the last disciple to foretell of Jesus before Jesus took over and history moved into the New Testament.
INSIGHT: History is His Story.
Both groups had become popular. People were open to what the scriptures had to say. A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew about ceremonial cleansing. To understand why someone would question John, it’s helpful to understand that ceremonial washings were a part of their culture. The Jew’s question would be one of, “Another washing to follow? What for?” It’s a legit question one would ask. Then John was asked by his disciples, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to Him instead of coming to us.”
INSIGHT: We see how quickly our human nature gets us into trouble. We compare and get envious, which makes us bicker and compete. Oh, how we trust our five senses, allowing them to dictate our thoughts and actions.
QUESTION: How does comparison trip you up? How about envy? They are ugly traps that hold us down. How does religious ways keep one held down? Today’s culture of denominations can be a trap. How?
John is a focused man whose heart beats for his Lord. And God revealed Jesus to John so he would know confidently who Jesus was and what his mission was. John was to exalt Jesus. We see how John remains constant in his position. He reminds everyone that “no one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven”. John is not the Messiah, “I am only here to prepare the way for Him”. He gives an example of a wedding. The bridegroom marries the bride and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. “Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success”.
INSIGHT: This is our mission. As we grow and mature in knowing Jesus and become more like Him, we are to act like Jesus’ best man and help others find and become His bride. We then share in the joy of watching another life take on the beauty of Christ.
QUESTION: John shares with us how we are to live our lives, just like he did. “Jesus must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.” What needs to change in your life for this to happen so you can live out your best man duties?
Take a closer look at verses 31-36. What do we learn about Jesus and who He is? (1) Jesus has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth and speak earthly things. He is to be the crowned head over our lives and be allowed to lead. We then become free. (2) Jesus testifies what He sees and hears from His Father. He is trustworthy and capable of leading us in a victorious way. (3) Only a few really believe what Jesus tells them. Reread that. Remember from a past blog, are you the one or one of the nine? Why does God have Matthew 7:13-14 in the Bible? (4) We must accept His testimony so we can affirm that God is true. We need to, daily, evaluate if our thoughts and actions align with what God says. (5) Jesus is sent by God. These words are found 39 times in the book of John. He must want us to remember this. He came to save an already condemned world. He came to rescue us out of its bondages. (6) He speaks God’s words. He is truth. (7) God gives Him the Spirit without limit. In the Old Testament, believers had the Spirit for limited times. Through Christ, we have the Spirit all the time. (8) Everything is put in Jesus’ hands by His loving Father. This makes Jesus the King of all kings that have walked this earth.
INSIGHT: Out of all the kings and gods, Jesus’ resurrection blows everyone else out of the water! While good in their own ways, they die off and their reign ends. Jesus does not. He is active and alive!
Let’s look at the final verse. “Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remain under God’s angry judgment.” Judgment isn’t a popular topic but it is necessary when it comes to following Jesus. God’s angry judgment in verse 36 is the only time it is mentioned in the book of John. Judgment is necessary because of sin and evil. It is a righteous act. God is loving AND God is just. While He blesses and honors obedience, He will deal with disobedience. Christ is the lifeline that takes a person from the bad side, aka sinful earth, and redeems him to the good side.
Jesus will be returning, to judge the earth and its inhabitants. In Matthew 25:46 it says, “Endless sin and disobedience will result in endless punishment.” The earth is waiting for His return. Since man does not know the hour, we are to be ready today. Either God will call us off this earth individually or Jesus will return to bring all believers home together.
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: Jesus loves you. He died for you. He resurrected for you. He wants you, desperately. Yet, He gives you the choice to decide. Will you say yes to His love? You will have to be brave. You will be jumping into boiling water having to trust. But God wants to take your hard carrot-like heart and soften you into His image. Be brave to open your heart to His Word. There you will find freedom, love and grace. You will not face judgment or retribution, only His tender mercies. Look up, talk with God, confess your sins and ask the Lover of your soul to take over. Be ready to make changes. God will need to remove empty, perhaps selfish, activities from your life. God will need to rewire your thoughts. We are being transformed, see Romans 12:2. God may ask you to change careers or deepen relationships. I don’t know what you will be facing but I do know this, this will be the best decision you make! Welcome to God’s family! If we never meet on this side of heaven, see you up there!
You will know Jesus confidently, like John, if you make Him your focus. Your marriage will thank you. Your children will thank you. Your parents, siblings, neighbors and co-workers will thank you. Take notice, your possessions, assets, interests and hobbies don’t care because they are empty distractions. You will take on Jesus’ beauty and you will be breath-taking!