After this, Jesus and his disciples came into the Judaeans’ territory, stayed with them, and baptized people. John also baptized people in Ainon, near Salim, because there were many waters there, and people came to be baptized because John had yet to be thrown into prison. An argument arose among John’s disciples with the Judaeans over purification. They came to John and said, “Rabbi, the one who was with you on Jordan’s far side, concerning whom you have the testimony about, is baptizing, and everyone is coming to him.” (John 3:22-26)

John answered them, saying, “A man cannot receive anything unless given to him out of heaven. You, yourselves, testify for me that I have said, ‘I am not the Anointed’ and that ‘I have been sent again of him.’” John continued, “He who has a bride is the groom. But the friend of the groom, standing by and listening to him, rejoices at the groom’s voice. This joy of mine is made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)

John continued speaking, saying, “He who comes from above is above all. He who is from the earth speaks out of the earth. He who comes out of heaven is above all. He tells us what he has seen and heard, but nobody accepts his testimony. He who accepts his testimony has certified that God is true. The one God sent speaks God’s words, for the Father gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hand. He who has faith in the Son has the life of that Age, and the one rejecting the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath rests upon him.” (John 3:31-36)

When the Lord learned that the Pharisees had heard of Jesus making and baptizing more disciples than John, although it was not actually Jesus baptizing, but rather his disciples, he left Judaea. He went to Galilee again, and he needed to pass through Samaria. (John 1:1-4)

John Rebukes Herod

Around the same time, John rebuked Herod the Tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, and Herod locked John up in prison. (Luke 3:19-20)

When Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, he went into Galilee in the power of the Spirit. (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14a, Luke 4:14a)

Discussion Questions

  1. John’s disciples were concerned when they saw more people going to Jesus for baptism. Why do you think John responded by saying, “He must increase; I must decrease”? How can we apply John’s humility and recognition of Jesus’ importance in our own lives?
  2. John explained that Jesus, who comes from above, is above all and speaks God’s words. What does it mean for us to believe and accept Jesus’s testimony? How can we show that we trust in Jesus’s words in our daily actions?
  3. John described himself as the friend of the groom who rejoices at the groom’s voice. In what ways can we be like a friend of Jesus, supporting and celebrating His work and presence in our lives and the lives of others?
  4. When Jesus learned that the Pharisees were aware of His growing number of disciples, He decided to leave Judaea and travel through Samaria. What can we learn from Jesus’ actions about handling situations where there may be conflict or misunderstanding?
  5. John was imprisoned for rebuking Herod’s wrongdoings, showing his courage to speak the truth even in difficult circumstances. How can we stand up for what is right and just in our own lives, even when it may be challenging or risky?
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