John 3:22-36 JOHN THE BAPTIST EXALTS CHRIST/THE BRIDEGROOM'S FRIEND
"After this" would be after Jesus and Nicodemus have a private one-on-one conversation late at night. Jesus and His disciples went out to the countryside of Judean where they spent some time together and baptized people (see John 4:2, the disciples were doing the baptizing). John the Baptist was also there baptizing. Scripture makes it a point to say it was a period of time before John the Baptist was put in prison. John the Baptist's disciples/followers and a Jew got into an argument about ceremonial washing and came to John the Baptist for an answer. They respectfully call him Rabbi, which means teacher, and ask him about Jesus who is baptizing as well. They state, "everyone is going to him,' as if it is a competition between John the Baptist and Jesus.
John the Baptist begins his answer by saying, "A person can receive only what is given them from heaven." What do we receive from heaven? I first think of my faith, but then also think of my gifts, tangible and talents. I also receive a calling (vocation). John the Baptist was doing what he was called to do. He would continue doing what he was called to do even though Jesus was now also baptizing.
John reminds them that he has always said that he is not the Messiah. John the Baptist continues with an analogy of the bride that belongs to the bridegroom. A friend who is attending to the bridegroom (today it might be a best man) waits for him to arrive at the wedding and when he hears him, is full of joy. Referencing "that joy" of the friend, John the Baptist states it is his and is complete because he "hears Him." Jesus is out and about on his ministry and can be heard. Getting straight to the point answering the question, John squashes any competitive heart saying that Jesus must become greater while John the Baptist becomes less. I can say this with John the Baptist. Lord, I want you to be greater and greater in the eyes of others and I want me to be less and less. None of what I do is about me, but rather about You, Jesus. Lord, I want people to follow You, not me. That is something to check my heart on in this time when we post on social media and hope people follow us and like us. We all have a desire to be accepted and liked, but I want my desire to not be about myself, but that others have greater accepted faith in You. Amen.
John the Baptist continues to share about Jesus by saying where He is from, which is also saying "who He is (which is a theme of Book of John). Jesus is the one from above earth, so He is above all. Now that is certainly greater! Those born on the earth belong to the earth. Ecclesiastes 3:20 says, "All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return." John the Baptist speaks as one from the earth. He is saying that Jesus already is greater than John the Baptist. He is frustrated that he has done all this testifying and people still are not getting it. Our accepting Christ certifies the truth. My heart is a certificate of truth for Jesus! John indicates that Jesus is sent by God and speaks the words of God, and then mentions that God gives the Holy Spirit without limits. In these verses we see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Trinity). "The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands," which makes me think of the nails literally in Jesus's hands.
Verse 36 says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life" which exemplifies how our faith is nothing that we do. My faith is a 100% gift from God. I do not of my own effort believe in the Son. 100% of my effort, if I unfortunately would make the choice, would be to reject the Son. I love the present tense of "has" and not "will have" in that I have eternal life now while I am still here on earth. That puts a whole new focus on things! This is an assurance of heaven. For those that reject, God's wrath (anger) remains on them. I sure would not want to make God angry. May I never choose to reject Him.