A person can receive only what is given them from heaven

Posted by admin on 13 November 2022 in John |

John 3:22-28

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptised. 23 Now John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptised. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptising, and everyone is going to him.’

27 To this John replied, ‘A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.”

I. Baptism affirmed by Jesus (22)

In John 3:5, Jesus told Nicodemus about being ‘born of water’, which was related to the baptism of repentance. After Jesus talked with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside (22a). There, Jesus spent some time with his disciples and baptised (22).

Here, we can learn that baptism was affirmed by Jesus [1].

II. Only given from heaven (23-27)

Baptist John also was baptising (23), but everyone was going to Jesus (26). This trend was heard by the Pharisees (John 4:1). John 4:2 clarifies that it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. Jesus had to leave Judea to avoid their jealousy (John 4:3).

How did Baptist John respond to this trend? See v27.

To this John replied, ‘A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.

We may replace ‘from heaven’ with ‘from above’ (John 19:11) [2] or ‘by God’ (Today’s English Version) [2]. Baptism was not a human achievement but what was given by God.

We can learn this perspective from what Jesus said in John 6:44a.

‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,

It was by God that everyone was going to Jesus (26b).


III. The contrast between Jesus and Baptist John (28)

Baptist John did not exalt himself more than he should [3] as shown in John 1:20-21 and John 3:27-28.

Jesus is the Messiah and Baptist John is the forerunner of the Messiah (28).

Jesus is the light (John 1:4, John 1:9) and Baptist John is a witness to the light (John 1:7-8). Jesus is the Word (John 1:14) and Baptist John is the voice (John 1:23). Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33) and Baptist John baptises with water (John 1:31).

Let us continue to study Baptist John’s response (John 3:29-36) in the next lesson(s).


[1] Gerald L. Borchert, John 1–11, vol. 25A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 189.

[2] Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Gospel of John, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 98.

[3] John Calvin, John, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), Jn 3:27.


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