22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison). 25 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ John 3:22 - 28 (ESV)
Jesus and his disciples traveled to the countryside in Judea and the disciples baptized people (John 4:2).
This concerned the disciples of John the Baptist (vs. 26). A discussion arose between John the Baptist’s
disciples and a Jew over the rite of purification. We don’t know the details of this discussion, but I am
sure it was over the significance of baptism and how it was administered. There was most likely talk
about the distinction between John’s baptism and the act of ceremonial cleansing. The essential factor in
John’s baptism was the prior requirement of repentance. We also do not know the motivation of the
Jewish man who was talking to John’s disciples. It could have easily been to stir up jealousy between
John’s disciples and Jesus’ baptizing ministry. I speculate that this man could have said to John the
Baptists disciples, “What are you guys going to do about this Jesus guy and his disciples infringing on
your ministry? Isn’t baptizing your business? Isn’t this what you are called to do? These men have no
right baptizing people.” This conversation concerned John’s disciples because they went to their teacher
and voiced their concern. They said, “Teacher, everyone is going to Jesus to be baptized and fewer are
coming to us!” They were concerned because they thought they were supposed to be the authoritarians of
baptism and here comes this other band of disciples doing their job.
John’s response was not what his disciples were expecting. He says, “You guys know I am not the
Messiah. You have heard me say my job is to prepare the way for the Messiah and that is what I have
done.” He is not upset because he knew his place in this part of history. John’s role in the Gospel
accounts were small but extremely significant. He was a promoter of Jesus (The voice crying out in the
wilderness) and not for himself or for his ministry. It wasn’t up to him to convince people to get his
baptism; his primary job was to point people to the Messiah. This is not a very good marketing strategy
by today’s standards. John’s church growth marketing strategy was, “Don’t come to me, because I am
just a voice crying out in the wilderness. Go to Jesus, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
 Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible Commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (Jn 3:22). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books