After Nicodemus visits in the night, Jesus and the Apostles go into the Judean countryside. Jesus spends time with His disciples teaching them. The men share conversations, the same meals around a blazing fire, the same hard ground to sleep, the sight of the same starry nights. They are all getting to know one another and the Lord. Bonds of friendship are being formed.
The scene then changes to John the Baptist. He has baptized Jesus but still retains some followers. Why did the evangelist change the scene? What does he hope to accomplish in this place? To restate who Jesus is? Jesus is not an itinerant preacher – there may have been many over the years in Israel. Jesus is the Messiah, the One who was promised so long ago. Jesus is the bridegroom while Israel is the bride.
John seems content in knowing that he has fulfilled his mission – he has prepared the way for Jesus and will continue to do so as long as God allows. But John knows that he will fade away. Perhaps already the number of people coming to John is dropping off. Perhaps the authorities no longer come to question him as they once did.
When a question arises about whether John’s baptism or Jesus’ is more perfect, though it is not Jesus baptizing but His disciples, John relates that “No one can receive anything except what has been given from above.”
Purification to the Jews was an important part of their faith. Baptism by John was part of that process for those who underwent his baptism.
The passage ends with the statement by John, “He must increase, I must decrease.” What does that say to me – Jesus must continue to grow in my life. Other will take the stage and shine more than me. This is how it must be for me as well for in time, like my sisters, my life will be no more.