Life-Study of Johnby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
When I was young, many things in the Bible bothered me, one of which is in John chapter three. Although this chapter is so elevated, speaking about the rebirth, it seemed to me that suddenly, beginning at verse 22, it became rather low. Verse 22 says, “After these things, Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea; and there He stayed with them and baptized.” When I read this verse as a young man, I thought that there was no need for it. It seemed to me that such a record was unnecessary. I felt the same about verse 23, which says that John was baptizing in Aenon near Salim because there was much water there. I was also bothered by verse 24, which says that John had not yet been thrown into prison. I asked, “What is all this about? After the mention of heavenly and spiritual things, why are things such as imprisonment mentioned?” The reason for this appears in verse 26. “And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, He who was with you across the Jordan, of whom you testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” Why did John include all of these verses? Simply for the purpose of exposing the tail of the fox. What is this tail? It is the matter of who will have the crowd and the following. Today people’s attitude is, “This is one who follows me. All of these are my following. Why should some of them go to you?” What we find today was also present in the time of John the Baptist.
John’s reply begins in verse 27. “John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves testify of me that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him” (vv. 27-28). If I had been there, I would have said to John, “Brother, if this is the case, you should go home and not baptize anymore. Since the One of whom you testified is now baptizing, you should stop your baptizing. If you continue to baptize, you will surely be cast into prison.” John was good, but he was not clear. The problem was that after Jesus came upon the scene, John was still there. John should have withdrawn and allowed the Lord Jesus to occupy the whole scene. There should have been only one main figure, not two. When I was young, I did not understand why John was cast into prison. Later I came to realize that he was put into prison because he did not withdraw from the scene.
Nevertheless John said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices with joy because of the bridegroom’s voice. This joy of mine therefore is made full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (vv. 29-30). Most Christians, especially most of the Christian teachers, misinterpret verse 30. What does it mean for Christ to increase and for you to decrease? It means that you must withdraw from the scene and from having the following and allow Christ to be the only figure on the scene and to have all the following. All the following should go to Christ; none of it should go to John the Baptist or to anyone else. Since John did not make this matter clear to his disciples, they were jealous on his behalf. When John’s disciples saw that all the people went to Jesus, they were unhappy. They seemed to say, “Why do these people not follow our teacher, but they go to Jesus?” Do you see the point? If John had withdrawn from the scene, there would have been no problem. If he had told all of his disciples to go to the Lord Jesus, no longer accepting a following for himself, there would have been no difficulty.
However, in answering his disciples John made the matter clear to them that he was not the Christ, or the bridegroom who came for the bride; he was only the friend of the bridegroom. He told them clearly that Christ was the bridegroom who came for the bride. People should not follow him; they should follow Christ so that He might have His bride.
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