To understand the context of this verse, let’s read John 3:25-30, “Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 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 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.”

We find the title of ‘John the Baptist’ mentioned in the scriptures fifteen times.  The Lord Himself referred to John in that way.  He was known by the works he did.  John’s message was clear: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)  His work of baptism was well known.  Matthew 3:6 tells us that people, “were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”  John, of course, even baptized the Lord Jesus as we read in Matthew 3:13-17.  However, we see that the Lord Jesus and His disciples also baptized.  John 3:22 says, “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.”  We find a clarification in John 4:2, “(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.)”  It was His disciples, under His guidance that baptized.

We read in John 3:25 that there arose a question among some of John’s disciples (followers) and other Jews about purifying, or baptism.  They were perplexed because so many people were now going to the Lord Jesus to be baptized, instead of coming to John.  Perhaps they were concerned that Jesus, who had been baptized by him, was gaining popularity over John.  Perhaps they were even trying to provoke John to jealousy.  John’s reply to their words was incredibly modest and wise.  “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.”

John rejoiced in the work the Lord had sent him to do.  We read in John 1:6-8, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.”  It was his privilege to announce Christ to the world.  We read John’s own words concerning Christ in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”  He said of his own baptism in John 1:26-27, “I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”  There was no jealousy in John.  He had no desire to supersede his beloved Savior.  There was no party spirit in John.  He had stated emphatically “I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.”  IT WAS GIVEN TO JOHN, FROM HEAVEN, TO BE THE ONE TO ANNOUNCE CHRIST.  He was His fore-runner.  It was proper that the attention that had been given to John should now be given to Christ.  It’s not the ‘friend of the bridegroom’ that occupies the mind and heart of the bride, it is the bridegroom himself. John would go on to declare, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  Perfect submission from a true servant of the Lord!  May we all learn from his example!  (214.6)