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 JOHN 3:27-30

 

 

"HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE"

JOHN 3:30

 

 

"John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."   John 3:27-30

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

Here are the verses again, John 3:27-30. John the Baptist spoke these amazing words. "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."

This Text is about lowering one's opinion of himself or herself!

Making ourselves less!

Making Jesus more!

Recently I was reading a book about prayer. In fact, for the first time since the "Jabez" craze, this little volume was talking about our praying for ourselves! That's right, praying for ourselves!

And one of the chapters the Preacher included was "Prayers for the Gift of Irrelevance!" That we Believers in Christ would become less and less ... making Him more and more in our lives!

And if anyone in the whole Bible can "teach" us that, it's John the Baptist!

With Maybe Paul the Apostle being a close "assistant" teacher!

Today let me show you what brought this whole conversation, our four-verse Text, to pass.

Some of John the Baptist's followers, some of his "disciples" or "students," had heard about Jesus and our Lord's great popularity! Crowds had begun to gather around Jesus! Big crowds! More people than even John the Baptist had attracted!

Here's the report they gave John. "And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him." John 3:26

Notice that last brief sentence. "And all men come to Him."

In other words: "John the Baptist, you are losing your people! They are all flocking to Jesus! Aren't you jealous? Your popularity is going away! What do you say to this?"

And this Text we are about to study, John 3:27-30, is John's response!

What humility!

What "preferring Jesus above John the Baptist!"

What beautiful Christian living!

Paul had not yet written these words, but John the Baptist was living by them anyway! "In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Philippians 2:3

Wow!

Join us tomorrow as we get started.

In the meantime tell Jesus how BIG, how very GREAT, how supremely AWESOME you want Him to be in your life!

And I'll guarantee you this, the BIGGER you make Jesus, the smaller you will become!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 27:

Our Bible Text, John 3:27-30, begins with an awesome statement!

"John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." This John, the speaker here, is John the Baptist.

The verbs here, both of them, are common. "Can receive" is "lambano," meaning "take" nearly as many times as "receive" in the New Testament. And "be given" is "didomai," implying the "bestowal of a gift, generally something advantageous"

"Nothing" is "oudeis," just meaning "not one single thing!"

The Baptist is saying something like this, the following little paragraph.

"Yes, Jesus has huge crowds following His ministry right now. More than we do! But these throngs are a gift from God to His Son. We can not, and will not, fight against any such thing!"

Later Paul, in 1st Corinthians 4:7, teaches the same truth. "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?"

Anything one possesses, anything, God gave it to him or her.

And James agrees, too. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17

You just can't be "jealous" of something a man possesses, if God gave it to him in the first place!

Especially Jesus, God's very Own Son!

"John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." John 3:27, our verse today.

This statement of John the Baptist's is one that uplifts our Lord, too!

As far as John is concerned, anything God the Father does for Jesus is just fine, perfect in fact!

Like Jesus asks later in His earthly life, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" Matthew 20:15, a parable.

So can the Father "do" with His Son what He pleases!

John is implying that the Father and the Son have a special relationship, indeed!

Maybe John the Baptist already knew the truth of John 8:29, where Jesus says: "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

Always!

But not only is Jesus being exalted here, John the Baptist is covertly deemphasizing himself! "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

"God the Father only gave me the crowds for a while, a short while. I will soon pass into oblivion. I will 'pale' in the Light of the darling Son of God! God be praised!"

Wise is the man or woman who knows that everything he or she receives is from God!

Greater yet is that person when he or she has humbled himself to realize that some things dwarf us in importance!

Our personas must fade in the light of life's great issues!

And history's greatest Citizen, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Of course, all this is leading up to John the Baptist's great statement in John 3:30. Maybe one of the greatest examples of Christianity in all the Bible! "He must increase, but I must decrease."

But this verse must wait for another day!

Nonetheless the "foundation" for it is already being laid!

The "spirit" of today's verse is fairly easily summarized.

"Whatever 'comes my way' or 'goes on down the road,' life's 'plusses' or 'minuses,' all of them, rest in the Hands of Almighty God!"

Everything I enjoy, positive or negative, is from Him!

That being true, one must then be content!

Jesus certainly was, not even creating a bite of food for Himself, after a forty-day fast, until His Father in Heaven gave permission!

It was this kind of contentment that John the Baptist already possessed a pretty large share!

How about you?

How about me?

Whatever happens, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

Wow!

What a view of life!

Can you imagine the fighting and quarreling and bickering that would solve, that attitude?

"A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

This puts everything in God's Hands!   

                                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 28:

The statement is loaded with humility. But even more so, it's packed with Truth! John the Baptist is being brutally honest.

He is speaking to his followers, particularly in reference to Jesus. It seems that John the Baptist's popularity and fame have dwindled, and our Lord has become the Center of attention, at least temporarily.

Let's listen to John. "Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him." John 3:28

In Greek "to bear witness" uses the verb "martureo," which has become our word "martyr." To the ancient mind the greatest single thing a man or woman could do to "witness" for his Lord and his faith was to die for them! 

Of course John the Baptist is using the word in its normal sense, "to testify, to give an accurate report."

The way this verse opens is strange. It is heavily freighted with pronouns. "Ye, yourselves, and me," all three words, fall into that category. It is important to John that others know Who Jesus is, the very "Lamb of God!"

The verb "said" is an aorist form of "lego." John has said this in the past. It is not a new truth he has recently begun preaching! John the Baptist never claimed to be the Christ!

"Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him."

Think of all the great "I am" statements Jesus made, seven alone in John's Gospel! But now John the Baptist just made a great "I am not" statement! "I am not the Christ."

And yet again here in this short clause, "I am not the Christ," the Holy Spirit "doubles" the pronouns! The verb alone, "eimi," demands the use of a first person singular subject. It is more than implied in that verb. It must be so translated. But still, for emphasis, the pronoun "ego" is added! If is as if John says "I, even I, for sure I, am not the Christ!"

He wants no doubt about that!

The New Testament tells us that in the latter days "false Christs" will come! But John the Baptist is not among them! Listen to Jesus in Mark 13:22. "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."

Rather than being the Christ, John the Baptist is Jesus' forerunner! Let me underline that last clause. "Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him."

In those days when a King came to town, he always dispatched a "herald" to go ahead of him, announcing his arrival!

John the Baptist was Jesus' hearald!

He was "sent before Him," before the Lord.

That verb "sent" is "apostello." Its root, "stello," means "to put things in order" or "to properly arrange the affairs entrusted to oneself."

In this sense John the Baptist is a God-called and a God-sent "apostle!"

The preposition "before" is "emprosthen," a surprise within itself! It fully means "in front of the face" of a person or a group of people. "In their sight!"

Again in today's verse, John the Baptist is lowering people's opinions of himself, and creating greater honor for Jesus!

"Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him."

"It's not me," says John!

Jesus is The Son of God!

Worship Him!

He is worthy!

I, John, am merely His helper!

Now that lovely attitude of humility and grace should be the "mark" all us Christians wear in these last days!

But instead, we find Churches filled with "super personalities" for Pastors and "super musicians" and "super singers" and "super guest speakers," many of whom are hired to entertain God's people!

We need to get back to the old days of "We're a bunch of nobodies serving the One great Somebody!" A bunch of old ex-sinners worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ!

We are zeros.

He's a number Ten!

Or a Thousand!

Or Ten Thousand!

Jesus is infinitely great!

Paul said this in 1st Corinthians 3:6-7. "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."

We are not anything, but God is!

John the Baptist, a great example of self-abnegation.

Of self abasement, in the Presence of Jesus!

And here's where it's all leading, in a couple of days, John 3:30. Still John the Baptist is talking, "Jesus must increase, but I must decrease."

Wow!

And Amen!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 29:

John the Baptist is explaining to his "disciples" his calm attitude.

John refuses to get upset at Jesus' recent successes. It seems that Jesus has "taken over" from John, now being more popular, at least temporarily.

The crowds that once followed the Baptist are now thronging after Christ!

So John, using a "word picture," nearly a "parable," explains his great peace of mind!

"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled." John 3:29

In "wedding" language, John begins to preach.

The real issue here seems to be a "bride!"

Of course, we now know, thanks to Paul, that the "Bride," the real "Bride" is the Church!

The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

John 3:29 has us near the time of the wedding. In fact, the very day of the wedding it seems. The Groom has arrived! In Bible days, unlike now, much of the focus was on the Groom, the man, not on the lady!

So John begins. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom."

The verb "hath" is "echo," meaning "to hold on to" someone!

The dear Lord has the Bride, and He is not going to let her go, not at all!

The word "bride" is "numphe" in Greek, from "nupto," meaning "to veil as a betrothed woman."

"Bridegroom" is "numphios," just the masculine form of "numphe" really! Then again, maybe this whole marriage thing does center around the bride! At least here, the groom is the Bridegroom! Even grammatically so!

Now John says more.

"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him ..."

Someone else is present at the wedding!

A friend of the groom!

Somewhat like the "best man," in attendance at the wedding, but definitely fulfilling a subservient role.

John is not the groom!

He will take a "back seat" in preference to the groom!

Jesus is the Bridegroom!

The born-again, Blood-washed, children of God, all saved  by grace, they are the Bride, collectively.

And John the Baptist is there, too, a friend of the Lord Jesus, of the groom.

"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him ..."

The expression "friend of the bridegroom" is "philos tou numphios." One who is "a lover of the groom!" Very fond of the groom! But also very much below the groom in social standing, Jesus must be preeminent!

So, what John's job in all this?

He is no longer needed as the "forerunner" of the King. This is a political word picture. That task has been completed.

He is now the "friend" of the Groom! This is a matrimonial word picture.

And both metaphors are accurate.

So, John will just "stand" and "hear" Jesus the Groom! "The friend of the bridegroom standeth and heareth Him."

The verbs here are common. "Standeth" is "histemi," just "to stay in one's proper place!" And "akouo" is "to understand or give ear" to what's being said. But something here is very interesting. "Standeth" is a perfect participle, while "heareth" is a present participle. This implies that John the Baptist has been standing longer than he has been hearing!

He had!

He had stood for Jesus all his conscious life! John 1:80 is talking about John the Baptist when he was quite young. "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel." That's standing, for sure!

John however could only "hear" Jesus once He arrived on earth, and perhaps just since the John 1:29 event. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

Wow!

"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled." John 3:29, the whole verse now.

What's the result of John's new position?

How has he been able to remain so calm?

No jealousy at all?

Here's how, he's a servant to the Groom!

A friend!

A helper!

That's all.

And since he really loves and appreciates the Groom, John too is happy!

Very much so!

He is "rejoicing greatly!"

This is worded "chara chairo" in Greek! It means "in joy I am glad!" Gleeful in glee! Happiness upon happiness! Tons of joy! "Unspeakable" joy, Paul would have added!

And when John says his joy is "fulfilled," he means "overflowing the very brim" of his heart's capacity! His cup "runneth over" with joy!

No negative emotions, not at all!

"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled." John 3:29

Now that's letting Jesus increase!

And letting one's own self decrease!

It is also called beautiful, humble Christian living!

And it is the way things should be in our lives today.

The Lord Jesus is all, is everything!

We are merely old sinners, ex-sinners, saved by Grace!

And just as happy as we can be!

Thank You, dear Lord!

For saving our souls!

For being our Bridegroom!

We love and praise You today!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 30:

It's one of the shortest verses in the whole New Testament, but one of the greatest as well!

I'm speaking of John 3:30, spoken by John the Baptist concerning the Lord Jesus.

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

Let's examine these few words today.

The first word of the sentence, both in Greek and in English, is "He." John would have spelled it like this, "ekeinos." It is by itself a pronoun, lending great emphasis to the subject of this first clause. He, Jesus, that great One, the Son of God ... must increase!

Theologically this verse elevates Jesus!

But grammatically it does too!

"He must increase."

The verb "must" is spelled "dei" and speaks of "necessity." In other words, "it is essential!" It is believed to be a derivative of "deo," the verb meaning "to bind, to tie with a rope, to fasten with chains!"

With John the Baptist, there is no choice! Jesus must grow bigger and bigger and bigger as the days pass. The "tense" of "dei" here is "present," picturing on-going action.

The "voice" of "dei" is "active." That just means that Jesus is the One getting bigger and greater and more powerful! He is overwhelming me! He is growing in me! He is growing on me! And I am willingly yielding to Him more and more!

And the verb "increase" is a translation of "auxano," but as its infinitive. It's like, "He must continue to increase." It means "to spread, to grow, to become more important!" And again, the action is durative, habitual, continuous! Every day John the Baptist lives, he intends for Jesus to be more significant in his life!

Wow!

"Jesus must increase!"

Then, if the "increasing" part is true ... another thing will happen!

John continues, "I must decrease!"

The whole verse again, for clarity. "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

The preposition "but," spelled "de," is translated in the King James Text "then" 132 different times.

If He increases ... then ... I will decrease!

Do not start this cycle backwards!

Do not begin by trying to make yourself decrease!

It will not work that way.

You must initially magnify the Lord!

The bigger you make Him, the smaller you can become! "He must increase, but I must decrease." This is very important, this sequence.

The "I," the personal pronoun, the subject of this second clause, is "eme," a from of "ego." The amazing thing is that it appears here in the accusative case! It looks something like this when detailed: "Jesus must increase in my life, then and only then, will a decreasing occur, and I will be the object of that decreasing!"

Do part "a," and part "b" will follow!

The verb "decrease," an infinitive like its counterpart "increase," means "to be come lower, to become less important." To decelerate in authority or popularity!

But, get this, "elattoo" here is framed in the "passive" voice! I am not making myself get this way, I am not belittling Brother Bagwell, not at all!

I can't do that!

Neither can you handle your own self!

"Passive voice" means someone else does it for you!

It, the "decreasing," is passed upon you by Another, by the dear Holy Spirit of God presumably!

My job, to make Jesus bigger in my life!

The result, guaranteed, self will become smaller!

What a lesson!

Thank you, Brother John the Baptist!

And thank You, Lord!

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

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